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Biegun visits S. Korea without his right arm

Posted July. 08, 2020 07:58,   

Updated July. 08, 2020 07:58


Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Special Representative for North Korea, arrived in Seoul on Tuesday with a plan to visit the country for three days. The visit, which came seven months after the last one in December 2019, is the first since his promotion to the deputy secretary. However, as the North repeatedly denied the possibility of talks with the U.S. by saying that the North’s staff has no intention to sit across the Americans, it is predicted to be difficult to find a breakthrough for the resumption of the U.S.-North Korea talks during this visit.

Biegun arrived in the Osan American Air Force Base in a military plane of the U.S. on Tuesday afternoon and dropped by at his hotel in Seoul before joining the closed-door dinner held at the residence of the U.S. Embassy in South Korea. It has been reported that he and Harry Harris, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, discussed messages toward North Korea, etc.

Meanwhile, Allison Holker who is currently serving as the senior director for Asia at the National Security Council and accompanied Biegun for all working-level discussions with the North did not join Biegun this time. Some say that this was intended to lower the expectations about Biegun’s visit to South Korea. The State Department emphasized on a principle-based approach on Monday that the deputy secretary’s visit to South Korea is to strengthen coordination for North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearization (FFVD).

In addition, the fact that Biegun’s schedule to visit the Ministry of Unification had not been determined until the day of the visit – unlike the previous times that he visited the ministry almost every time he was in South Korea – is also seen as another message that discussions on the ease of sanctions, etc. through the South Korea-U.S. working group are premature. The deputy secretary will visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Service on Wednesday, followed by a meeting with Director of the National Intelligence Service Suh Hoon at the National Security Office of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday morning.

Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com