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Top nuclear envoys of S. Korea, U.S. assess peninsula situation amid rumors about N.K. leader's health

North Korea 11:50 April 28, 2020

SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States exchanged their assessments of the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a phone call Tuesday, the foreign ministry said, amid speculation about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's health.

The phone talks between Lee Do-hoon and his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, came as media reports about Kim's weekslong absence from the public eye spawned rumors about his health conditions despite Seoul's assessment that there was "nothing unusual" in the communist state.

"The two sides have shared assessments of the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula and exchanged their opinions on ways to cooperate between the two countries in making substantive progress in the efforts for the complete denuclearization and establishment of lasting peace on the peninsula," the ministry said in a press release.

"The South and the U.S. evaluated bilateral communication and consultations on the North Korean nuclear and other issues that have continued at each level, and agreed to continue close cooperation down the road," it added.

A diplomatic source said that both Seoul and Washington shared the assessment that there are no unusual signs regarding Kim's status.

Lee and Biegun last held phone talks on April 2 amid worries that the global focus on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic could slow the endeavors to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiation table.

This photo, taken on Dec. 16, 2019, shows Lee Do-hoon (R), the foreign ministry's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, posing with Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea and deputy secretary of state, before their talks at the ministry in Seoul. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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