By MATTHEW PENNINGTON

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. officials are in Beijing to discuss with North Korean officials the possibility of providing food aid to the impoverished country.

U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues Robert King and senior U.S. aid official Jon Brause will meet with North Korea's director for American affairs, Ri Gun.

A State Department official said the American officials arrived Wednesday in the Chinese capital and talks will start on Thursday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the formal announcement of the talks, said they will discuss a possible nutritional assistance program.

The U.S. has been cautious in extending aid to the nuclear-armed country because of concerns food could be diverted to the military.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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