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(LEAD) U.S. remains ready for dialogue with N. Korea: Biegun

All News 23:48 December 09, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more reporting in last 3 paras)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun reaffirmed the U.S.' commitment to dialogue with North Korea for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the State Department said Wednesday.

Biegun's remarks came in his meetings in Seoul with his South Korean counterparts -- First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security Lee Do-hoon.

"The deputy secretary reaffirmed our commitment to the U.S.-ROK alliance and expressed appreciation for the ROK's continued coordination on the COVID-19 response," a department spokesperson said in a released statement, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

Lee Do-hoon (R), special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, bumps fists with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun during their meeting at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2020. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

"Deputy Secretary Biegun also reaffirmed U.S. support for inter-Korean cooperation, and continued U.S. readiness to engage in meaningful dialogue with the DPRK in the pursuit of complete denuclearization," the statement added. DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Biegun, who is double-hatted as special representative for North Korea, is on a five-day visit to Seoul where he is also scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

His visit came amid a long hiatus in denuclearization talks with North Korea.

The U.S.-North Korea talks have stalled since their leaders -- President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un -- held their second bilateral summit in February 2019 but walked away without any deal.

Earlier, Seoul said the No. 2 U.S. diplomat expressed hopes for close cooperation with South Korea "in the weeks and months ahead."

Biegun also underlined the importance of Seoul-Tokyo cooperation in promoting regional security, according to the State Department.

"The deputy secretary encouraged continued cooperation with Japan to promote regional security and a free and open Indo-Pacific," it said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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