The U.S. special envoy on North Korea policy will visit South Korea late next week to discuss Pyongyang's much-denounced nuclear weapons program following a high-ranking North Korean official's recent trip to Russia, diplomatic sources said Friday.
Sung Kim's visit, scheduled for late next week, will be the first trip to Seoul by the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea since he was named the special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary of state for Korea and Japan last month.
"Special Representative Kim is known to be planning to visit South Korea late next month," according to the sources.
Kim's visit is expected to focus on coordinating policy with South Korea on the nuclear and human rights issues concerning Pyongyang, especially following a series of recent and related developments.
Choe Ryong-hae, the North Korean Workers' Party of Korea secretary, made an official trip to Russia as a special envoy of the North Korean leader earlier this month.
The Russian foreign minister said after his meeting with Choe that the North has expressed its willingness to come back to the long-stalled six-party denuclearization talks unconditionally.
A United Nations committee, meanwhile, adopted a resolution earlier this month, calling on the Security Council to refer the North's dire human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. The resolution will be put to a vote at a U.N. general assembly next month.
The U.S. official's expected meeting with his South Korean counterpart Hwang Joon-kook may also dwell on the results of the latter's visit to Russia. Hwang, the top negotiator for the six-party talks, is planning to depart for Russia on Monday to meet with his Russian counterpart in Moscow.
Efforts have been underway to revive the multilateral denuclearization forum on North Korea, which involves the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. The forum has been stalled since the last meeting in late 2008 as the North continued its nuclear weapons development.
The focus has been on whether the North will respond to Washington and Seoul's demand that the country first demonstrate its sincerity toward denuclearization so the six-party talks can resume.
"Seoul now has a lot to discuss with the U.S.," a source noted. (Yonhap)