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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. hold working group talks on N. Korea

All News 10:42 February 10, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with meeting beginning)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States held a "working group" meeting Monday to coordinate policy on North Korea, with Seoul's push to allow individual trips to the North expected to be a key agenda item, amid speculation anti-coronavirus aid could also be discussed.

The chief U.S. delegate, Deputy Special Representative for North Korea Policy Alex Wong, went straight into a closed-door meeting with his South Korean counterpart Rhee Dong-yeol without speaking to reporters after arriving at the foreign ministry.

Wong arrived in Seoul on Sunday for the talks.

The two sides are expected to discuss South Korea's push for inter-Korean exchanges amid the prolonged deadlock in the nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang since the collapse of the second summit in February last year between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North's leader, Kim Jong-un.

In his press conference for the new year, President Moon Jae-in vowed to push for an expansion of inter-Korean cooperation as a way to facilitate the stalled nuclear talks, such as allowing individual tourism to the communist state, which does not fall under U.N. sanctions against the North.

Possible aid to North Korea with regard to the new coronavirus could also be discussed, though the communist nation has not reported any confirmed case yet.

Wong is also expected to meet with officials from Seoul's unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs and the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, and to pay a courtesy call on Lee Do-hoon, the South's chief nuclear negotiator.

The working group was set up in late 2018 to coordinate North Korea-related issues.

Alex Wong, U.S. deputy special representative for North Korea, arrives at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Feb. 9, 2020, for policy coordination working group talks on North Korea. (Yonhap)


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