South Korea named its new chief negotiator for the six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program on Thursday ahead of a scheduled meeting with the envoys from the United States and Japan.
Hwang Joon-kook, the ambassador in charge of negotiations for the South Korea-U.S. defense cost sharing pact, replaces Cho Tae-yong, who was promoted to vice foreign minister earlier this year, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The 54-year-old career diplomat led the South Korean delegation in January when Seoul and Washington renewed their agreement on sharing the cost of keeping 28,500 American troops in South Korea.
The appointment came as the chief six-party envoys of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are scheduled to hold a three-nation meeting in Washington, D.C. next week.
The diplomats from the three countries are expected to discuss ways to revive the long-dormant six-way talks that also involve North Korea, China and Russia.
Diplomatic efforts have been underway to reopen the disarmament talks, last held in late 2008, after North Korea's third nuclear test in February last year stoked security concerns on the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)