Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, speaks to reporters after arriving at Washington's Dulles International Airport on Sunday. (Yonhap)
South Korea’s top nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, arrived in Washington on Sunday for talks with US officials, saying he plans to discuss the recent killing of a South Korean official by North Korea and the proposed declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
Lee’s trip to Washington to meet with his US counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, and other officials, came just days after Pyongyang shot dead a South Korean fisheries official who had drifted into North Korean waters. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has apologized for the killing, and Seoul has demanded a joint probe into the matter. The US said it supports both Seoul’s condemnation of the act and its demand for a full explanation from Pyongyang.
“We will discuss how to cooperate on this matter with the US,” Lee told reporters upon arriving at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.
He also added that the two sides plan to talk about South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent proposal to declare a formal end to the Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
“The reason I came this time is to discuss all related current issues, and therefore I certainly plan to discuss the possibility of declaring an end to the war,” he said, adding that the US had shown interest in the past. “I am sure we will find some common ground when we sit down and discuss it.”
When asked about the prospects of an “October surprise” before the US election on Nov. 3 -- referring to a dramatic turn of events in Washington’s relations with Pyongyang amid stalled denuclearization talks -- Lee said he wouldn’t make any hasty predictions, as it was up to the North.
He also added that the two sides might discuss providing humanitarian aid to the North amid the COVID-19 pandemic, something US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had recently expressed his country’s willingness to do.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org