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(LEAD) U.S. nuke envoy due in Seoul after N.K. spurns possibility of talks

All News 10:45 July 07, 2020

(ATTN: INCORPORATES details from articles slugged NK-US talks, Biegun-Seoul visit in paras 2-8; TRIMS)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun was set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday for talks about denuclearizing North Korea, as the communist nation again rejected the possibility of resuming negotiations with the United States.

The North made clear in a statement earlier Tuesday that it has "no intention to sit face to face" with the U.S., saying there are still people talking about such a possibility even after First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui issued a statement spurning the idea on Saturday.

Biegun, who doubles as Washington's chief nuclear envoy, is scheduled to arrive at the U.S. Osan airbase, south of Seoul, aboard a military plane for a three-day visit. Alex Wong, deputy special representative for the North, is expected to travel together with Biegun.

In Seoul, Biegun is expected to hold talks with Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's nuclear envoy, about ways to break the impasse in the nuclear negotiations. Also expected to be on the agenda are inter-Korean relations in the wake of the North's blowing up of a joint liaison office.

Other officials he is also scheduled to meet include Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young. He could also meet with Seoul's new national security adviser Suh Hoon.

The U.S. Department of State said Monday that Biegun will travel to Seoul and Tokyo from Tuesday to Friday "to continue close allied cooperation" on bilateral and other issues and to "further strengthen coordination on the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK." DPRK is the acronym of North Korea's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Nuclear talks between the U.S. and the North have stalled since the no-deal summit in Hanoi last year between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The two sides held working-level talks later that year, but no progress was made.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun leaves for Japan at the Gimpo International Airport, in western Seoul, on Dec. 17, 2019, after wrapping up his trip to South Korea for talks on North Korea's denuclearization. (Yonhap)


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