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Nuclear envoys of S. Korea, U.S. to hold talks on N. Korea this week

Diplomacy 20:25 June 17, 2019

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top nuclear envoy will visit the United States this week for talks with his counterpart there to explore ways to resume negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program, Seoul's foreign ministry said Monday.

Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, will leave for Washington on Tuesday for a four-day trip, during which he is to meet U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, according to the ministry.

"The two representatives plan to discuss ways to boost bilateral cooperation on how to make real progress in the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace, including how to resume dialogue promptly," the ministry said in a release.

Lee's trip comes amid an impasse in the denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang since the breakdown of the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

Though the U.S. and South Korea have called on Pyongyang to return to the negotiation table, stressing that the door for diplomacy remains open, North Korea has demanded that the U.S. make a new proposal to break the deadlock.

Some signs of hope, however, have been spotted in recent days. Last week, Kim sent a personal letter to Trump, the first known correspondence since their no-deal Hanoi summit.

On Wednesday, Lee and Biegun are scheduled to deliver keynote speeches at the Atlantic Council-East Asia Foundation Strategic Dialogue, marking the first time that the two envoys will speak on the same stage, according to the organizer.

The daylong conference is meant to explore the current state of the U.S. and South Korea's ongoing negotiations with North Korea and the broader strategic picture developing in the Indo-Pacific, it added.

During his stay in Washington, Lee also plans to meet U.S. government officials, according to the foreign ministry.

Lee Do-hoon (L), South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, shakes hands with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Seoul on May 10, 2019. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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