S. Korean envoy heads to US to plan dialogue with North

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Seoul, July 11 (IANS) The South Korean representative in the negotiations for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula left for the US on Wednesday as part of efforts to coordinate the next steps in the ongoing dialogue with the North Korean regime about its disarmament.

The envoy, Lee Do-hoon, left from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport on Wednesday and will be in Washington till Saturday to meet with a number of US government representatives, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

“In the path towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the next several months will likely be very important,” Lee said before leaving for Washington, according to state news agency Yonhap.

Lee’s Washington visit came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last week to follow up the agreements made at the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.

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Pompeo’s visit did not go as planned and the North Korean regime issued a statement afterwards which alleged the US was demanding “unilateral denuclearization”.

However, the South Korean government, which has played a key role in improving relations between the US and North Korea, said that Pompeo’s visit had been a “productive starting point”.

“Above all, the core element in the process is how closely South Korea and the US coordinate,” said Lee, adding that his visit was focused on this coordination.

The envoy is set to meet National Security Council’s Senior Director for Asian Affairs Matthew Pottinger, who is a trusted aide of Trump in North Korean affairs and one of the key figures behind the Singapore summit.

The US and North Korea signed a joint declaration during the summit in which Pyongyang agreed to work for complete denuclearization in exchange for Washington guaranteeing the regime’s survival.

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