Published : 2014-02-12 12:42
Updated : 2014-02-12 13:30
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Seoul this week for talks with his South Korean counterpart on such issues as North Korea and the political situation in Northeast Asia, the foreign ministry here said Wednesday.
Kerry will arrive in Seoul Thursday afternoon for a meeting with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, the ministry said. This will be their second face-to-face meeting this year following the first one held in Washington early last month.
Security issues involving North Korea are expected to be high on the agenda in the upcoming talks as North Korea is leading an unusual string of charm offensives toward Seoul and Washington.
Upon a proposal from Pyongyang, officials from the two Koreas met in the truce village of Panmunjom for a high-level inter-Korean contact earlier in the day, a result from the North's recent reaching out to the South.
The South Korean and U.S. officials may examine Pyongyang's charm offensive as the allies are wary of Pyongyang's friendly actions, which are often followed by military provocations.
Experts and officials have indicated that the North is likely to launch military threats around the joint annual South Korea-U.S. military drills scheduled for Feb. 24. The North has long denounced the drills as a rehearsal for war against it though the allies say it is defensive in nature.
The top diplomats are also expected to delve into the continuing efforts to denuclearize North Korea.
China has been mustering diplomatic efforts to resume the long-stalled six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program, but Seoul and Washington have shown reservations about an early resumption, demanding Pyongyang first show sincerity toward complete denuclearization before a resumption.
Yun and Kerry may agree to stress China's greater role in inducing North Korea to come up with more attitude changes.
Park's accelerating push for unification of the two Koreas is also expected to be discussed, along with Northeast Asian tensions caused by the Japanese administration's nationalist moves to whitewash the country's wartime aggression.
Following their talks, Yun and Kerry are scheduled to hold a joint press conference before Kerry departs for China early Friday as part of his Asia and Middle East visit. (Yonhap)