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North Korean defector visits Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The highest-ranking North Korean official ever to have defected to South Korea is making a rare visit to Washington this week.

Hwang Jang Yop met Wednesday with academics and reporters at a think tank.

Hwang is the North's former parliamentary speaker and was considered a mentor to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. He fled to South Korea in 1997 and is under constant police protection to guard against assassination attempts.

His visit comes as negotiators work to restart international talks meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea quit the talks last year to protest international condemnation of a rocket launch. It later conducted its second nuclear test.

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