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U.S. nuclear envoy to visit S. Korea, Japan next week: source

All News 17:21 July 04, 2020

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. envoy for North Korea will visit South Korea and Japan next week amid stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang, a diplomatic source here said Saturday.

According to the source, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun will meet with officials in Seoul early next week, likely Tuesday, and spend three days here before hopping over to Tokyo.

"Biegun may be accompanied on this trip by Allison Hooker, who is the National Security Council's senior director for Asian affairs at the White House," the source added.

Biegun is expected to make himself available for the South Korean press during his stay and to meet with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, and other Seoul officials.

It was not immediately clear if Biegun would also visit China during this upcoming trip to Asia.

The trip comes after South Korean President Moon Jae-in committed to working toward a fourth meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Trump and Kim have met three times to try to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for U.S. concessions.

The two sides have failed to make progress since their second summit in February 2019 ended abruptly due to differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

Biegun said this week that he believes another summit is unlikely before the election, citing COVID-19 as a reason.

But he added there is still time to make "substantial progress."

This file photo, from Dec. 17, 2019, shows U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul on his way to Japan. (Yonhap)


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