U.S. Envoy, North Koreans Talk

SEOUL, South Korea -- U.S. envoy William Perry reported to Washington on Friday the North Korean response to a proposal that the isolated communist state abandon its missile and nuclear development programs in exchange for economic and diplomatic benefits.

Perry arrived at a military airport in a Seoul suburb after four days in Pyongyang, where he met with key North Korean policy-makers and delivered U.S. President Bill Clinton's letter to the North's enigmatic leader, Kim Jong Il, via an intermediary.

North Korea has accused Washington of trying to "stifle" the country with economic and diplomatic embargoes.

South Korean officials said Perry urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear, missile and other weapons development programs in exchange for Western economic and diplomatic benefits, including restoration of ties with the United States and Japan and help rebuilding North Korea's economy.

Perry began the North Korea trip Tuesday as a U.S. team ended an inspection of an underground facility in the country suspected by some American officials of being used for nuclear activity.

State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said Thursday that the U.S. team found "an unfinished site, the underground portion of which was an extensive, empty tunnel."

Any sign of nuclear activity at the facility would violate a 1994 agreement with the United States.