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U.S. Under State Secretary Sherman to visit S. Korea for N.K.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman plans to arrive in South Korea on Wednesday for discussions on North Korea and issues of mutual concern, officials here said.

Sherman's two-day visit to Seoul is part of her three-nation tour that will also take her to Japan. She is now in Beijing for a two-day stay.

On Thursday, Sherman is scheduled to meet with Seoul's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong to discuss a wide range of pending issues, including how to deal with North Korea and boost bilateral cooperation for regional and global priorities, according to the foreign ministry officials.

She then plans to meet with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and to visit the presidential office, they added.

Sherman will be the first high-level U.S. official to visit South Korea this year.

Her planned visit came as inter-Korean relations are at a critical juncture and Washington gets tough on the communist North.

While continuing its peace offensive, North Korea has demanded that Seoul suspend its joint military exercises with the U.S. and block launches of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by activists before holding inter-Korean dialogue.

Dismissing the demand, the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on the North earlier this month following its alleged hacking attack on Sony Pictures apparently over the release of its film, "The Interview," that depicts a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Sherman is scheduled to visit Tokyo on Thursday and Friday for meetings with politicians and senior government officials there to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues, and then return home Saturday, according to her office. (Yonhap)