United States Secretary of State John Kerry will visit South Korea later this month to discuss ways to denuclearize North Korea as well as security issues in the Northeast Asian region, government sources said Monday.
South Korean and U.S. officials are in discussion to schedule Kerry's Seoul visit, which is likely to fall on the third week of February, the sources said.
In a speech given to a security forum in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 1, Kerry announced his plan to visit China by saying, "I will be in China in two weeks working on the North Korean issue."
His trip to Seoul is expected to come before or after his visit to Beijing, but it is still unclear whether he will also fly to Japan during his upcoming Asian travel, according to the sources.
Kerry's visit here, if made as planned, will come just before the opening of the annual joint Seoul-Washington military exercise scheduled to run from late February to April.
His visit also comes amid increasing speculation over the North's possible military provocations, which the communist country usually launches before or during the two-months-long joint military drills involving a massive amount of U.S. and South Korean
forces. The North has repeatedly denounced the exercise, labeling it as a rehearsal for war.
During Kerry's likely meetings with President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, the top officials are expected to focus on ways to denuclearize North Korea as well as a resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks on ending the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
Glyn Davies, the U.S. top envoy on the North Korean nuclear issue, held a meeting with his counterpart in Seoul last week as part of efforts to revitalize the dormant forum involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
Kerry last visited Seoul in April 2013, and the U.S. top diplomat is also expected to discuss U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to visit Seoul and the Asian region in as early as April, when the secretary comes here. (Yonhap News)