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Top U.S. diplomat in S. Korea for talks on N. Korea's nuke test

All News 11:34 January 19, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- The No. 2 U.S. diplomat arrived in Seoul Tuesday for talks with South Korean government officials mainly about ways to punish North Korea for its recent nuclear test.

Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken is scheduled to meet with "senior officials of the Park Geun-hye administration" during his two-day stay, according to a U.S. embassy official who requested anonymity.

Sources said he will meet with Park's top foreign affairs and national security aide, Kim Kyou-hyun, later in the day. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, according to the ministry.

Local media are paying keen attention to whether or not the two sides will discuss the possible deployment of the U.S. advanced missile defense system, THAAD, in South Korea.

Blinken's trip is part of a regional tour that took him to Japan over the weekend, where he held bilateral and trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts -- Lim and Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki.

The three agreed to push for a "strong and comprehensive" U.N. Security Council resolution that will punish the North for its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.

They also urged China -- a veto-wielding permanent member of the council -- to join them in their efforts.

Blinken is scheduled to visit China from Seoul amid Beijing's lukewarm stance toward tough sanctions on Pyongyang.

Later Tuesday, South Korea's top nuclear envoy, Hwang Joon-kook, plans to meet with his Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, in Moscow in another diplomatic outreach move to draw a strong response from the council. Russia is also a permanent member, along with the U.S., France and Britain.

North Korea announced that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which is far more destructive than the conventional atomic weapons it tested in three previous experiments. Outside experts are highly skeptical of the claim.

hague@yna.co.kr
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