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US, S. Korea, Japan to Meet on N. Korea Nuclear Issue

FILE - People watch a TV news program showing the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, June 29, 2014.
FILE - People watch a TV news program showing the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, June 29, 2014.

Representatives of the United States, South Korea, and Japan will meet in Washington this week to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue, a senior official in Seoul said on Monday.

The envoys are expected to share their assessments on the security situation in the Korean peninsula and discuss ways to revive diplomatic efforts toward resolving a deadlock over North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, according to the official, who did not want to be named.

The official said the envoys are also likely to reaffirm commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in response to North Korea’s renewed efforts for a peace treaty. Recently, Pyongyang demanded a peace treaty between Washington and the communist country. Washington rejected the idea, insisting denuclearization of Pyongyang should be achieved before such a treaty can be considered.

The U.S. State Department says U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim, South Korean Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Hwang Joon-kook, and Japanese Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Kimihiro Ishikane will hold their talks on Thursday.

The gathering, the first trilateral meeting of the envoys in nearly seven months, comes during an emerging thaw in inter-Korean ties. Last week, the two Koreas agreed to hold rare high-level talks next week in an apparent progress in relations between the two sides.

Chang Yong-suk, a senior researcher at Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, said the envoys will try to determine whether progress in inter-Korean ties will impact the nuclear issue.

Another analyst who follows the nuclear issue closely said the trilateral meeting will address North Korea’s efforts to advance its missile technology. Last week, North Korea reportedly conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile test. U.N. sanctions ban North Korea from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology. The envoys are likely to send a message with concerns and warnings over the North Korean move, according to the analyst who asked to remain anonymous.

The trilateral meeting follows a visit by the South Korean envoy to China. Hwang traveled to Beijing last week and met with China’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei to discuss North Korea.

In the meantime, North Korea on Monday blasted South Korea for participating in the meeting. North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Shinmun accused South Korea of creating an “anti-DPRK nuclear racket” in collusion with the U.S. and other forces.

The six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula remain stalled since December 2008.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.