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Vice FM heads to U.S. for talks on nuclear pact

All Headlines 16:09 March 03, 2016

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- A top South Korean diplomat headed to Washington on Thursday to prepare for the launch of a joint high-level committee tasked with implementing a bilateral nuclear energy partnership accord, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said.

The agreement, reached last year, allows Seoul to expand its peaceful nuclear activity through research into a nascent nuclear-reprocessing technology known as "pyroprocessing." The U.S. also agreed to continue discussions on allowing South Korea to produce low-enriched uranium.

The deal came after years of negotiations as some in the U.S. worried about its effect on the country's nonproliferation drive.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul left for Washington earlier in the day to meet with his U.S. counterpart, Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said in a press briefing.

As co-chairs, Cho and Sherwood-Randall will discuss the launching of the committee ahead of its first meeting in Seoul in mid-April.

During his stay, Cho also plans to meet with members of key U.S. think tanks to discuss the alliance and recent developments surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"We expect it to be a good opportunity to raise awareness of the need for strong and comprehensive sanctions on North Korea," the spokesman said.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution Wednesday imposing the harshest sanctions yet on Pyongyang over its nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch last month.

Washington has also slapped separate sanctions on the communist state.

hague@yna.co.kr
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