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Wi holds ‘substantive’ meetings with U.S. officials: State Dept.

South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Wi Sung-lac, had “constructive, substantive” discussions with U.S. officials on a range of issues on the peninsula, the State Department said Thursday.

Wi arrived in Washington on Wednesday and met with Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell and other State Department officials on North Korea policy, according to department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

“They discussed the full range of issues -- bilateral, regional, global affairs on the peninsula -- and how they apply to the peninsula,” she said at a press briefing. “We call these meetings constructive, substantive, as they always are.”

Wi had planned to meet Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, but Bosworth canceled his trip to Washington due to torrential rains, Nuland said. Bosworth works as dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Boston and he deals with the North Korea issue on a part-time basis.

Meanwhile, Campbell described Wi’s three-day trip here as a “farewell visit,” confirming speculation that he will soon leave the post after two and a half years of service.

Wi is expected to be named as Seoul’s ambassador to a major country. Sources said chances are high that Wi will be replaced by Lim Sung-nam, former minister at South Korea’s embassy in Beijing.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after meetings with U.S. officials, Wi said the two sides are still waiting for a response from North Korea. In their high-level talks in New York in July, the U.S. demanded the North first take initial steps toward denuclearization for further talks.

“What is important is the North’s appropriate response,” Wi said. “South Korea and the U.S. want to continue the dialogue process.”

(Yonhap News)