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(LEAD) Trump plans to name No. 2 N.K. envoy as representative to U.N.

All News 06:21 February 12, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details, quotes)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate the No. 2 U.S. envoy for North Korea as a representative to the United Nations, the White House said Tuesday.

Alex Wong, currently the deputy U.S. special representative for North Korea, has been tapped to serve as the U.S. alternative representative for special political affairs at the global body, with the rank of ambassador, the White House said in a press release.

The planned nomination adds to uncertainty about the future of denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, which have stalled since an unfruitful summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in February 2019.

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

CNN reported Monday that Trump has told his advisers he does not want another summit with Kim before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Wong has effectively led the State Department's efforts with North Korea since Stephen Biegun, the top U.S. envoy for Pyongyang, took over as deputy secretary of state in December.

This week, Wong was in Seoul to meet with South Korean officials and "discuss continued U.S.-(South Korea) coordination on achieving our shared goals of complete denuclearization and bringing lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula," a State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency earlier.

On Monday he also led a "working group" meeting, during which the South Koreans are known to have briefed the U.S. side on plans to allow individual tourism to North Korea, an initiative pushed by President Moon Jae-in as a way to foster inter-Korean cooperation and facilitate the resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

The U.N. position requires Senate confirmation.

"It typically takes at least two months for the Senate confirmation process, so I don't think there will be an immediate impact on (Wong's work)," a diplomatic source in Washington told Yonhap.


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