(LEAD) Top U.S. envoy expresses hope for N. Korea's return to dialogue
(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of press release from State Department in last 3 paras; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. envoy for North Korea again expressed hope for North Korea's return to dialogue Monday, saying his country remains committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy.
Sung Kim made the remark after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk.
"We exchanged views on the situation on the ground, as well as some ideas and initiatives for engagement, including possible humanitarian assistance," Kim said in a joint press availability with his South Korean counterpart, who arrived here Sunday.
"We also, of course, reaffirmed our shared commitment to pursuing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through diplomacy, and I look forward to hearing back from the DPRK," the U.S. envoy added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The meeting between Kim and Noh marked the second of its kind in less than two weeks as the U.S. special envoy visited Seoul earlier this month.
"I had an excellent discussion with Special Representative Noh. It was a good follow-up to my meetings in Seoul just a week ago," Kim said.
Noh said the sides have agreed that the North Korean nuclear issue is an "urgent issue" that needs to be addressed quickly through dialogue and diplomacy.
The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier said in its annual report to the board of governors that the North appears to have restarted its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.
Noh said Seoul has been closely monitoring North Korea's activities related to its weapons of mass destruction programs under the close cooperation of South Korea and the United States.
"Until now, South Korea and the U.S. have held discussions on areas where the countries and jointly pursue a North Korean humanitarian assistance program, as well as inter-Korean cooperation projects," Noh told reporters.
"We again held follow-up discussions on that issue today. As we have done so far, Special Representative Kim and I will continue our close consultation," he added.
The State Department later said Kim and Noh also reaffirmed their countries' commitment to their ongoing cooperation on North Korean issues.
"The two sides discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and prospects for humanitarian cooperation and reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-ROK alliance. They decided to continue close coordination on the way forward," the department said in a press release.
"This meeting reemphasized the U.S. and ROK commitment to our ongoing cooperation on DPRK issues as we seek to achieve our shared goal of complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula."
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