SEOUL, June 16 (Reuters) – New US envoy to North Korea Sung Kim will make his first visit to South Korea this week for a possible three-way meeting with his counterparts in Seoul and Tokyo, a ministry official South Korean Foreign Office. told Reuters on Wednesday.
The visit, from Saturday to June 24, comes after US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held their first summit in May, injecting new urgency into efforts to engage the North in talks on its nuclear weapons.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency said arrangements were being made for the visit in which officials from the three countries would discuss the future direction of the Biden administration’s attempts to open dialogue with North Korea in the pursuit of denuclearization.
The US State Department said it currently had no trips to announce when asked about Sung Kim’s plans.
However, when asked about remarks by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier Wednesday, in which he said his country’s economy had improved but called for action to deal with a “tight” food situation in due to the coronavirus pandemic and typhoons last year, a State Department spokesperson mentioned:
âEven when we disagree with a regime like the DPRK, we support efforts to alleviate the suffering of its people. We strive to act in a way that does not harm the North Korean people and continue to support international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, if the DPRK is prepared to accept it. “
The spokesperson referred to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and declined to give details.
An independent panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions against North Korea recently reported that international aid groups are struggling to reach vulnerable people in the country due to pandemic lockdowns, potentially leaving hundreds of people thousands of people without access to necessary nutrients.
North Korea has pushed back US calls for diplomacy since Biden took over from Donald Trump, who had three summits with Kim, but failed to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons.
Sung Kim, appointed by Biden last month, is a Korean-American diplomat who served the same role under former President Barack Obama and helped organize Trump’s summits with Kim.
Biden said during his summit with Moon that he would be ready to meet Kim on the right terms – if he agreed to discuss his nuclear program and have his advisers meet with their North Korean counterparts first to lay the groundwork.
Kyodo said Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Asian and Pacific Islands Office of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, will participate in the three-party talks, as will Noh Kyu-duk, the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s special representative for foreign affairs. Korean Peninsula Peace and Security.
Washington was keen to encourage dialogue among the allies on the best way forward to deal with North Korea.
Reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul and Elaine Lies in Tokyo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
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