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Ex-campaign chief of Trump met S. Korean intelligence chief, politicians

All News 20:09 January 02, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- A former campaign chairman of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, visited South Korea last month during which he held meetings with the head of the country's intelligence service and senior politicians, according to the politicians who met with Manafort on Monday.

The visit by Manafort to South Korea came before North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in his New Year's message on Sunday, said that the North is close to launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.

South Korea is also in political turmoil over an ongoing influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.

Manafort separately met Lee Byung-ho, head of the National Intelligence Service, and ruling and opposition politicians, including Kim Chong-in, former interim chief of the main opposition Democratic Party, and former opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu.

Kim told Yonhap News Agency by telephone that he and Manafort exchanged "general" views on bilateral relations between South Korea and the U.S.

In his Facebook posting on Saturday, Sohn said he and Manafort held "in-depth discussions" about issues on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asia.

Sohn said Manafort showed his interests in "recent political situations" in South Korea.

Manafort is said to have visited Japan and China before arriving in South Korea.

North Korea's Kim said his country has reached the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, in a veiled threat that it's about to develop a nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S.

Experts have warned that the communist nation could undertake provocations around the time when Trump takes office on Jan. 20, noting Pyongyang has a record of staging provocations around U.S. elections and transition periods.

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