JEJU, South Korea-- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States met on Friday to discuss cooperation in forcing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, held bilateral talks with his U.S. counterpart Joseph Yun on the southern resort island of Jeju. They last met in Seoul in mid-October.
The two are expected to exchange views on the latest security conditions around the Korean Peninsula and their coordinated approach in denuclearizing the North, which is defiantly seeking to own nuclear weapons.
Yun, in particular, will likely use the meeting as a chance to share Washington's North Korea policy after U.S. President Donald Trump wrapped up his recent 12-day Asia trip that included stops in South Korea and China.
"We have a lot of homework to make sure how their vision and how we will deal with regional security issues, and especially regarding North Korea, how we will be able to help reduce tensions and make some forward progress," Yun said at the start of the meeting held in a hotel here.
Lee said that he is looking forward to a "very meaningful" meeting.
The meeting came amid a more than two-month lull in North Korea's provocations and cautious expectations that the U.S. might be seeking direct contact with the North. The North has not carried out provocations since Sept. 15 when it fired a missile over Japan.
Yun reportedly said at a recent meeting that if North Korea halted nuclear and missile testing for about 60 days that would be the signal Washington needs to resume direct dialogue with Pyongyang.
Upon arriving in South Korea on Tuesday, Yun told reporters that he does not know why the North has halted its provocations but urged the North to stay provocation-free "for a period of time," adding that it would be a "good start."
On Wednesday, China announced a plan to send a special envoy to North Korea to explain the outcome of its 19th party congress held last month in a surprise move given their frayed ties over Pyongyang's continued missile and nuclear tests. Song Tao, the head of the international department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, will visit Pyongyang on Friday.
After their bilateral meeting, Lee and Yun will join a U.N. conference on disarmament and non-proliferation underway here in Jeju.
Source: Yonhap News Agency