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(LEAD) S. Korea's unification minister to visit U.S. to discuss North Korea issues

All Headlines 11:22 November 13, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS ministry official's comments in first 3 paras, more info in 7th para)

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister left for the United States on Tuesday for a five-day visit amid speculation over possible differences between the two allies over how to achieve North Korea's denuclearization.

Minister Cho Myoung-gyon is likely to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials and experts to discuss issues of the North's denuclearization and inter-Korean relations, the ministry said.

"As a minister handling inter-Korean affairs, he will likely exchange views on ties between the two Koreas, denuclearization, establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual concern," a ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

His trip comes amid apparent friction between the allies over how to enforce global sanctions imposed on North Korea amid almost stalled denuclearization talks.

South Korea has been eager to expand cross-border exchanges, which have been blocked by sanctions on Pyongyang. The U.S. has said that sanctions will remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons program.

Joint projects between South and North Korea, such as railway and road connections over their border, have been faced with apparent opposition from the U.S.

On Monday, the two Koreas held a meeting but failed to produce dates for joint surveys of their roads, which are needed for their connection as agreed upon in a summit in April.

Cho will likely emphasize Seoul's argument that an improvement in inter-Korean relations could benefit the denuclearization process and ask the U.S. to cooperate in easing sanctions on key cross-border projects.

During his five-day stay, Cho is also expected to meet Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and visit the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and other institutes to meet local experts on North Korea.

This marks the first time in about four years for South Korea's incumbent unification minister in charge of North Korea issues to visit Washington.

(LEAD) S. Korea's unification minister to visit U.S. to discuss North Korea issues - 1


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