U.S. Senate confirms Biegun as deputy secretary of state

December 19, 2019

- The United States Senate on Thursday confirmed Stephen Biegun, Washington’s top envoy for North Korea talks, as deputy secretary of state.

Biegun’s confirmation by a 90-3 vote came as the special representative has been in Beijing to meet with Chinese officials over North Korea.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrives at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Dec. 15, 2019, for a three-day visit to South Korea. (Yonhap)

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrives at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Dec. 15, 2019, for a three-day visit to South Korea. (Yonhap)

ㅍHe has repeatedly expressed his intent to remain the lead negotiator for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program even if appointed as the No. 2 official at the Department of State.

The envoy assumed his role in August last year following the June summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, where the two leaders agreed to pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.

Biegun has since led efforts to implement the deal, including through two additional meetings between Trump and Kim in February and June, but negotiations have faltered amid wide gaps over how to match the North’s denuclearization measures with U.S. concessions.

There is speculation Biegun may seek a meeting with his North Korean counterpart during his stay in Beijing through Friday.

A State Department spokesman told Yonhap News Agency earlier he had no “additional travel or meetings to announce.”

Biegun could also fill in for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if the top American diplomat decides to run for the Senate next year as widely rumored.

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