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(LEAD) U.S. envoy on N. Korea to visit S. Korea, Japan

All News 03:50 September 08, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS lead, ADDS photo, UPDATES with State Department saying Kim has no plans to meet with N.K. nuclear negotiator)
By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. special envoy on North Korea will visit South Korea and Japan for meetings with his counterparts and other officials amid heightened tensions in the wake of Pyongyang's latest missile launches, the State Department announced Wednesday.

Amb. Sung Kim's trip, set for Sept. 10-13, comes after North Korea test-fired three medium-range ballistic missiles on Monday in the latest in a series of missile firings in defiance of the international community.

Kim, who has been nominated to be ambassador to the Philippines, will first be in Tokyo on Sept. 10-12 for meetings with Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Kenji Kanasugi and other senior Japanese government officials, the department said in a statement.

The envoy will then visit Seoul on Sept. 12-13 for meetings with Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Hong-kyun and other senior South Korean government officials, the department said.

Amb. Sung Kim (L), U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Hong-kyun, during a meeting in Seoul in March.

The announcement of Kim's trip came a day after North Korea's deputy nuclear negotiator, Choe Son-hee, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday. That raised the possibility of Kim meeting with Choe while in the region, but the State Department said Kim has no plans to do so.

"There are no plans at this time for Ambassador Kim to meet with Choe Son-hee," a department official said.

On Monday, the North fired three Rodong medium-range missiles off its east coast. The missiles flew about 1,000 km and landed in waters some 400 km inside Japan's air defense identification zone, according to South Korea's military.

The barrage was the latest in a number of missile launches of all ranges -- short, medium, intermediate and submarine missiles -- the communist nation has been carrying out since its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month.

Such launches represent a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the North from any activity using ballistic missile technology over concern that it can be used to develop long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.


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