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In Seoul, Kerry to seek assurance of no gap on N. Kore policy

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Published : 2014-02-13 09:09
Updated : 2014-02-13 09:36

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will seek to make sure that there is no disparity between Seoul and Washington on ways of dealing with North Korea, when he travels to Seoul this week, officials said Wednesday.

"The secretary's focus is on close coordination on North Korea, he will reaffirm our alliance commitments as well as our resolve to work closely together with the Republic of Korea to promote denuclearization and to maintain deterrence, " a senior U.S. government official told reporters in an in-flight background briefing for reporters.

He added the secretary expects South Korean officials to provide an update on the state of inter-Korean relations. Kerry's trip to Seoul comes a day after the two Koreas resumed their high-level talks, followed by a deal on reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

"More broadly, it's a chance for the United States and the Republic of Korea to remain closely synchronized in advance of the secretary's conversations the following day in Beijing," said the official. 

Asked about whether the Obama administration is comfortable the pace of inter-Korean rapprochement, the official said Washington supports improved ties between the two Koreas but it hopes that Pyongyang is sincere and cooperative.

Kerry left Washington for Seoul earlier in the day on his special plane also carrying his entourage and reporters.

His plane was briefly staying here in Alaska for refueling. 

The secretary will meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, shortly after arriving in Seoul on Thursday afternoon (local time). He will then hold talks his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se. 

The next day he will head to Beijing for discussions mainly on North Korea and climate change, according to the official.

In his consultations with Chinese leaders, Kerry will put the two issues high on agenda, the official added.

The U.S. wants to translate the denuclearization of North Korea from a "noun" to a 'verb," he said.

The secretary is also scheduled to visit Jakarta and Abu Dhabi before returning to Washington early next week. (Yonhap)

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