Seoul’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday appointed Hwang Joon-kook, who led recent negotiations with Washington on sharing costs for the upkeep of U.S. troops, as special representative for Korean Peninsular peace and security affairs and chief delegate to the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North.
“The meeting will take place next week, with the exact date to be announced shortly,” a ministry official told reporters on customary condition of anonymity.
The consultation would be a follow-up to a trilateral summit last week in The Hague on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, during which the three countries’ leaders reaffirmed that the six-nation forum should ensure “substantive progress” in dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programs in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” manner.
For Hwang, it would mark an opportunity to build rapport with his counterparts ― Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korea policy at the U.S. Department of State, and Junichi Ihara, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Since he joined the ministry in 1982, Hwang has taken up key posts including director for U.N. affairs, director-general for North Korean nuclear affairs, minister at the embassy in Washington and special adviser to the minister.
Tension is escalating on the peninsula amid military exercises on both sides of the border and Pyongyang’s threats of a fourth nuclear test.
The two Koreas on Monday briefly traded fire across the Northern Limit Line after the North dropped about 100 artillery shells south of the de facto sea border during its live-fire drills. The South, which has been carrying out military exercises with the U.S. since late February, shortly fired back some 300 shots with its K-9 self-propelled howitzers.
The communist state said on Sunday it would not rule out a “new type of nuclear test” to further strengthen its nuclear deterrence in protest against the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of its ballistic missile tests last week.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)