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FM says S. Korea, U.S. discussed concerns over 'working group' operation amid N.K. criticism

Diplomacy 12:19 July 02, 2020

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States discussed ways to improve the operation of the bilateral "working group" forum set up to coordinate North Korea policy, Seoul's top diplomat said Thursday, after Pyongyang condemned the forum as a key hindrance to inter-Korean cooperation.

The South's top nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, discussed the issue when he visited Washington last month for talks with his U.S. counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, and other American officials, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said.

Lee's trip came shortly after the North blew up an inter-Korean liaison office, and Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, strongly criticized the South for failing to pursue inter-Korean cooperation independently of the U.S. while citing the "working group" as a key example of such "deep-rooted flunkeyism."

"The foreign ministry, as well as the United States, assesses that the working group has operated fairly effectively, but we are also aware of domestic concerns about it," Kang said during a press conference.

"I was briefed that we shared such concerns with the U.S. and discussed how to improve its operation so as to dispel such concerns" when the nuclear envoy, Lee, visited Washington, she added.

Seoul and Washington set up the working group in November 2018 to coordinate their approaches on the North's denuclearization, humanitarian aid, sanctions enforcement and inter-Korean relations.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a press conference with local media outlets on July 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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