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10 December 2023

S Korea envoy leaves for US for three-way talks


A senior South Korean diplomat left for Washington Monday for talks with Japanese and US officials to coordinate policy after the sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

Lim Sung-Nam, chief envoy to stalled six-party negotiations on the North's nuclear disarmament, is making his second trip to Washington since Kim's death on December 17, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

The Tuesday meeting in Washington will group Lim, his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama and Kurt Campbell, the US top diplomat on Asia, a Seoul foreign ministry official said earlier.

"We will exchange opinions on the situation on the Korean peninsula and discuss ways to resume nuclear talks on the North," Yonhap news agency quoted Lim as saying before he departed.

The six-party aid-for-disarmament talks are chaired by China and also involve the two Koreas, Japan, the US and Russia.

The forum has been moribund since Pyongyang stormed out in April 2009 and staged a second nuclear test a month later.

The US and North Korea last year held two rounds of talks aimed at restarting the six-party negotiations.

A third round was reportedly scheduled in Beijing before the announcement of Kim's death put the process on hold. Kim's youngest son Jong-Un has been proclaimed "great successor" to his father.

The North said last week that the US had offered it food aid and a suspension of sanctions if it halts its uranium enrichment programme.

The comments by a foreign ministry spokesman suggested that a deal was still on the cards if the US raised the amount of food it is willing to offer.