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(LEAD) Allies' diplomats to hold talks over N. Korea

All News 15:39 December 06, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with S. Korean ministry's announcement)

SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week, Kang's ministry announced Thursday.

They are scheduled to meet in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning (local time) for discussions on issues of mutual concern, including a joint strategy on North Korea, according to ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk.

Kang is there on a visit as the chief of the South Korean delegation to the funeral of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

It will be their first face-to-face talks in about two months. The previous meeting took place in Seoul on Oct. 7 shortly after the secretary's visit to Pyongyang.

The top diplomats are expected to exchange views on the North Korea issue amid the South's preparations to greet its communist neighbor's leader, Kim Jong-un, and a second summit likely to be held in the coming weeks or months between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim.

The allies are also trying to arrange videoconferencing between working-level officials in charge of the North Korea issue as part of their new "working group" communication.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Seoul on Oct. 7, 2018, in this photo provided by her office. (Yonhap)

The two sides launched the working group on Nov. 20 for "regular, systemic and formal" communication on North Korea policy, amid speculation about a possible rift between them on how they handle Pyongyang.

The working group is co-headed by Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Stephen Biegun, Washington's special representative for North Korea at the State Department.

A South Korean government official said Lee and Biegun won't join the upcoming videoconference aimed at reviewing current progress.

Thus, the allies would not call it the second working group session, the official added.

They plan to hold a face-to-face meeting once a month.



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