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(2nd LD) U.S., S. Korea remain committed to advancing diplomacy with N. Korea: nuclear envoys

All News 06:12 September 29, 2020

(ATTN: REPLACES photos)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- The United States and South Korea remain committed to advancing their efforts to denuclearize North Korea and establish lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue with the communist North, the countries' top nuclear envoys said Monday.

"The United States and the Republic of Korea remain fully committed to diplomacy as a way to reach an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula, to achieve denuclearization, to bring about a brighter future for all of Korean People and to bring about normalcy in the United States' relationship with the DPRK," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun told reporters, referring to the two Koreas by their official names -- the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who also serves as the country's top U.S. nuclear envoy, speaks to reporters after his meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, at the State Department in Washington on Sept. 28, 2020. (Yonhap)

His remarks came shortly after he and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, held a meeting here.

The U.S. diplomat expressed his appreciation to Lee for what he called "creative ideas."

"But we cannot do it by ourselves. The U.S and ROK cannot do it by ourselves. We need DPRK engaged and we remain open to that discussion with them when they are prepared," he said.

North Korea has stayed away from any serious dialogue with South Korea and the United States since leader Kim Jong-un's second bilateral summit with U.S. President Donald Trump ended without a deal in February 2019.

The first Trump-Kim summit was in Singapore in June 2018.

Lee called his conversation with his U.S. counterpart "very productive."

"Biegun and I discussed how we will manage this situation and how we will resume our dialogue (with North Korea)," said Lee.

"And also in our conversation, (we) discussed various ways on how we will lead our joint tasks of denuclearizing the peninsula and establishing a peace regime," added the South Korean diplomat, who arrived here Sunday on a four-day visit.

In a speech delivered before the U.N. General Assembly last week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in emphasized the need to declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War, insisting it would provide a security guarantee that North Korea has long sought and thus opening the door for its denuclearization.

South and North Korea technically remain at war as the Korean War ended only with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

South Korea's top nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon (L), and his U.S. counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, hold a joint press availability after holding bilateral talks at the U.S. Department of State in Washington on Sept. 28, 2020. (Yonhap)

Biegun said he and Lee discussed many other issues relevant to the Korean Peninsula, including the recent killing of a South Korean maritime official by the communist North.

He said it was a tragic incident that was "deeply disturbing to the Korean people and certainly to the United States."

"But we also talked about constructive ways to continue advance our diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula, together," said Biegun.

The U.S. State Department earlier expressed its support for South Korea in condemning the North's killing of the 47-year-old South Korean government official, who was drifting in waters off the North's west coast on Tuesday.

Lee highlighted the importance of the two allies working together.

"I believe in the future, as the current situation requires it, it is very important for South Korea and the United States to work together. Therefore, Deputy Secretary Biegun and I will continue to hold our consultations through various means and at various occasions," he said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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