US envoy for N. Korea to visit Seoul to continue discussions on ending Korean War

Posted on : 2021-10-20 17:18 KST Modified on : 2021-10-20 17:39 KST
This visit comes after a flurry of bilateral and trilateral talks with South Korean and Japanese counterparts in the past month
Top envoys for the North Korean nuclear issue, Noh Kyu-duk of South Korea (right) and Sung Kim of the US (left), pose for a photo ahead of bilateral talks in Seoul on Aug. 23. (Yonhap News)
Top envoys for the North Korean nuclear issue, Noh Kyu-duk of South Korea (right) and Sung Kim of the US (left), pose for a photo ahead of bilateral talks in Seoul on Aug. 23. (Yonhap News)

Sung Kim, the US special representative for North Korea, said Monday that he hoped to see continued discussions on the proposal for a declaration officially ending the Korean War.

Kim also indicated that he plans to visit Seoul this weekend.

Many are watching closely for signs of progress in dialogue with North Korea as the South Korean and US senior representatives on the North Korean nuclear issue keep up a jam-packed schedule of discussions beginning in Tokyo on Sept. 14 and continuing on to Jakarta on Sept. 30, Washington on Monday, and Seoul a few days after that.

Kim spoke with reporters at the State Department in Washington on Monday afternoon after a meeting with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs and Kim’s counterpart as the senior representative on the North Korean nuclear issue.

In his remarks, he said that he and Noh had discussed South Korea’s proposal for an end-of-war declaration, adding that he “look[s] forward to continuing those discussions and other issues of mutual concern when [. . .] in Seoul later this week.”

In previous remarks, Noh told reporters that “much of the meeting today consisted of in-depth discussions related to the end-of-war declaration matter.”

“I believe our discussions to date have deepened the US’ understanding of our ideas for an end-of-war declaration,” he added.

He also said they had agreed on plans for Kim to “visit Seoul this weekend to continue related discussions.”

“South Korea and the US reaffirmed their shared position that they are able to discuss all matters, including areas of interest, so that dialogue with North Korea can resume going forward,” Noh added.

Kim went on to say that he had reiterated the US’ firm commitment to cooperating closely with allies and partners — South Korea and Japan in particular — “to achieve complete denuclearization and a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

“To reach this objective, we will seek diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States and our allies. This includes considering potential engagement with the DPRK to reduce tensions,” he added. DPRK is the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The US continues to reach out to Pyongyang to restart dialogue,” he also said.

“Our intent remains the same. We harbor no hostile intent towards the DPRK, and we are open to meeting with them without precondition,” he continued, reiterating Washington’s previous stance.

At the same time, he made sure to stress, “Even as we remain open to dialogue, we also have a responsibility to implement the UN Security Council resolutions addressing the DPRK.”

“Furthermore, consistent with the Biden-Harris administration's focus on human rights, we will continue to advocate for the human rights of the North Korean people,” he continued, indicating also that the US would call for an “immediate resolution of the abduction issue” — a reference to the kidnapping of Japanese nationals by North Korea.

“We are prepared to work cooperatively with the DPRK to address areas of humanitarian concern,” he said.

“The US supports the provision of humanitarian aid, consistent with international standards for access and monitoring, to the most vulnerable North Koreans."

Noh said the two sides had “shared our assessments of the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula and agreed on the vital importance of keeping the Korean Peninsula situation on a stable footing without a rise in military tensions.”

He added that they had “discussed different ideas for engaging North Korea, including joint humanitarian cooperation efforts and meaningful trust-building measures in order to quickly resume dialogue and diplomacy.”

In a message to North Korea, he signaled his “hope that they will respond positively to the joint efforts toward dialogue by South Korea and the US.”

On Tuesday morning, Noh took part in discussions with Kim and Japanese Foreign Ministry Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Takehiro Funakoshi as the three sides’ senior representatives on the North Korean nuclear issue.

By Hwang Joon-bum, staff reporter

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