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US envoy for N.Korea to meet with S.Korean, Japanese counterparts

The newly appointed US envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, will make his first visit to South Korea this week for a possible three-way meeting with counterparts from Seoul and Tokyo, a South Korean foreign ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The visit, from Saturday to June 24, comes after President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held their first summit in May, injecting fresh urgency into efforts to engage the North in talks on its nuclear weapons.

The Kyodo news agency earlier had said arrangements were being made for the visit during which the officials of the three nations would discuss the future direction of the Biden administration’s attempts to open dialogue with North Korea in pursuit of denuclearization.

Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, will participate, as will Noh Kyu-duk, the South Korean foreign ministry’s special representative for Korean peninsula peace and security affairs.

Sung Kim, appointed by Biden last month, is a Korean-American diplomat who had the same role under former President Barack Obama, and helped set up former President Donald Trump’s summits with the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Un has said his country’s economy improved this year but urged measures to tackle the “tense” food situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and typhoons last year.

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