On Wednesday, US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun met with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon.
|Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do-hoon (right) and US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun address the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Wednesday. Yonhap|
“(We) discussed ways to achieve practical progress (in North Korean denuclearization talks),” Lee said, describing the current situation as an “important juncture” in restarting US-North Korea working-level talks.
“South Korea and the US agree to cooperate and consult closely together to enable dialogue to continue.”
As for Biegun, he said the US is ready to reengage the North as soon as Pyongyang is ready, and reiterated that Washington is closely cooperating with Seoul as well as Tokyo.
“We discussed a number of issues of mutual interest to our government and continued our close cooperation on the matters related to North Korea. I appreciate this strong and continued cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan,” Biegun said. Biegun arrived in Seoul on Tuesday after a trip to Tokyo.
Biegun also denied news reports that his involvement in North Korea negotiations will be cut short.
“I will not be taking up a diplomatic posting in the Russian Federation, and I will remain focused on making progress on North Korea,” he said, stressing that US President Donald Trump gave clear orders for him to restart talks with the North after Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Panmunjom border village on June 30.
Biegun added that he is “fully committed” to the mission, and that the US is “prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea.”
However, he did not respond to questions about whether he will meet with North Korean officials during his trip.
During his stay in Seoul, Biegun is set to hold a series of meetings with South Korean officials including Minister of Unification Kim Yeon-chul and Seoul’s deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong.
Biegun’s meetings with South Korean officials follow statements from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging Pyongyang to resume talks.
“We haven’t gotten back to the table as quickly as we would have hoped, but we’ve been pretty clear all along. We know there will be bumps along the way,” Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview with a US broadcaster.
“We hope Chairman Kim will come to the table and get a better outcome. It will be better for the North Korean people. It will be better for the world.”
Pompeo also voiced concerns over North Korea’s short-range weapon launches, saying, “I wish that they would not.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)