US top nuke envoy arrives in S. Korea ahead of Trump’s trip

TOKYO, US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in South Korea on Thursday ahead of President Donald Trump’s trip to the Asian ally, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Biegun will meet his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon on Friday to discuss the nuclear issue and possibly the North Korea portion of the agenda for Sunday’s summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump, the report said.

The US president is set to arrive in Seoul on Saturday following his attendance at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday and Saturday. “(Lee and Biegun) plan to hold in-depth consultations on ways to cooperate for substantive progress in the Korean Peninsula peace process, including the endeavors for the resumption of North-US. dialogue,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a press briefing in Seoul.

Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been at an impasse since the no-deal summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February. This month, Trump and Kim exchanged personal letters, which bolstered expectations that the US and the North could resume their working-level talks to bridge differences and pave the way for a possible third summit.

During an event at the Atlantic Council think tank earlier this month, Biegun emphasized that the “door is wide open” to negotiations with the North and without preconditions.

He also noted that both sides understand the need for a “flexible approach” — remarks that some observers said insinuated the US’ willingness to ease its hard-line stance.

A major bone of contention is the extent of Pyongyang’s denuclearization in return for Washington’s sanctions relief. During the Hanoi summit, Kim offered to dismantle the mainstay Yongbyon nuclear complex, but Trump wanted more than the complex, which the US sees as only a part of the North’s sprawling nuclear program.

Source: Kuwait News Agency