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S. Korea mulls sending envoy to Moscow conference

All Headlines 21:35 October 16, 2017

SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is considering sending an envoy to an international nonproliferation conference to be held in Moscow this week, an official said Monday, setting the stage for a possible meeting with a senior North Korean diplomat.

South Korea will determine the level of envoy to attend the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference by taking into account the participants from other countries, the official said.

"We are considering sending an appropriate figure to the conference," another South Korean official said, without elaborating

The three-day meeting set to kick off on Thursday draws keen media attention as a South Korean envoy could meet with Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American affairs bureau at North Korea's Foreign Ministry.

Still, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said no plan is set for a meeting between South and North Korean officials on the sidelines of the annual conference seen as the "Track 1.5" platform.

During the conference, Choe is expected to meet with former U.S. government officials.

Americans planning to attend include former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, former State Department special adviser Robert Einhorn, former State Department official Robert Carlin, top nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker and Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America think tank, Radio Free Asia reported earlier this month.

"Track 1.5" meetings have served as a chance for the U.S. and North Korea to sound out each other's position at times of high tension.

The conference comes as tension between Washington and Pyongyang has been running high in the wake of North Korea's sixth nuclear test in September.

Tensions rose further as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump engaged in a war of words over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

In August, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho for three minutes on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Manila.

The encounter marked the first contact between senior officials of the two Koreas since May when liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office with a pledge to seek engagement with the North.


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