U.S. nuke envoy to visit Seoul on Tuesday

July 6, 2020

South Korea’s foreign ministry said Monday the U.S. envoy for North Korea is set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday for talks with his counterparts amid stalled nuclear talks with North Korea.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who doubles as the point man for North Korea, plans to make a three-day visit to South Korea, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Biegun is set to hold talks with Seoul’s nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, and also meet with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young.

The U.S. Department of State said in a statement that Biegun will travel to Seoul and Tokyo from Tuesday to Friday “to continue close allied cooperation on a range of bilateral and global issues and 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.

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

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

Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since a February 2019 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal due to differences over the scope of North Korea’s denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

Biegun said last week that he believes there is still time to make “substantial progress.”

On the possibility of a fourth meeting between Trump and Kim, he said it is unlikely to happen before the U.S. presidential election in November, citing COVID-19 as a reason.

Talk of a new summit gained traction after President Moon Jae-in said last week that he would work to facilitate one before the election.

North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui scoffed at the idea on Saturday, saying in a statement that Pyongyang has no interest in sitting down for talks with the U.S.

Trump and Kim met three times between June 2018 and June 2019. At their first summit in Singapore, they produced an agreement committing the North to work toward complete denuclearizatin of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.

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