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Campbell due in Seoul today on N.K. nuke

Kurt Campbell, Washington’s top diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region, was to meet senior South Korean officials to discuss North Korea and other regional concerns Saturday.

Meeting Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac and Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Kim Jae-shin, Campbell was expected to talk about Pyongyang’s new uranium enrichment program and the stalled six-nation talks on its denuclearization, according to the Korean Foreign Ministry.

The senior U.S. official’s visit comes as Seoul and Washington have been upping efforts to have the U.N. Security Council condemn the North’s uranium program as one of the conditions for resuming the multinational denuclearization talks.

China, which is Pyongyang’s historical ally and a member of the six-party dialogue, opposes the attempt, claiming such a move would only deepen tensions on the peninsula. Beijing wants to immediately resume the stalled peace talks with North Korea instead.

The six-nation talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia have been suspended since late 2008 after Pyongyang walked from the dialogue claiming other partners had failed to keep their side of the promise.

The communist state then conducted its second atomic test, which led to sterner international sanctions and aggravated its financial isolation.

Revealing a new uranium enrichment facility to an outside expert in November, North Korea has been seeking to resume the talks in apparent bid for outside food and fuel aid. 

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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