South Korea’s n-envoy to visit US next week

Seoul, Sep 11 (IANS) South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy is set to visit Washington next week for talks with his US counterpart, an official said on Friday.

Hwang Joon-kook, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, will fly to New York on Sunday for meetings with delegates of the UN Security Council member states, Yonhap News Agency reported.

From New York, the chief envoy to the stalled six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear programme will travel to Washington, where he is due to meet his U.S. counterpart, Ambassador Sung Kim, on Wednesday.

Efforts to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table have gained momentum since President Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, issued a joint call last week for the swift resumption of “meaningful” six-way talks. The two leaders also warned North Korea against further provocations that could raise tensions in the region.

Speaking during a parliamentary audit of the foreign ministry on Thursday, Hwang dismissed views that Washington has been reluctant about restarting negotiations.

“The US, like us, is making various efforts for the resumption of the six-party talks … and has said on numerous occasions that it is willing to hold talks with the North,” he said.

“However, North Korea is currently refusing any sort of dialogue on the nuclear issue, not only with the US, but also China.”

North Korea’s nuclear programme is expected to be high on the regional agenda in the coming weeks. Xi is scheduled to hold a summit with US President Barack Obama in Washington later this month, while Park and Obama are also slated for summit talks in October.

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