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Presidential secretary for peace planning tapped as new chief nuclear envoy

This undated photo shows Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's new chief nuclear negotiator. (Yonhap)
This undated photo shows Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's new chief nuclear negotiator. (Yonhap)
South Korea replaced its chief nuclear envoy Monday, naming a seasoned diplomat and presidential aide to take on the job, as the country prepares to work with the incoming US administration of Joe Biden to move the stalled nuclear talks with North Korea forward.

Noh Kyu-duk, a career diplomat serving as presidential secretary for peace planning, was named to replace Lee Do-hoon as the special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, the foreign ministry announced in a press release.

Noh's appointment comes ahead of the launch of the Biden administration and is seen as part of Seoul's freshening up of its team for North Korea talks for cooperation with Washington to continue its peace drive and bring Pyongyang back to dialogue.

The new envoy entered the foreign service in 1987 and has working-level experience in the six-party talks in 2006. He is known to have a deep understanding about related countries as he has worked in the US and China.

He has also served as director-general for the ministry's Korean Peninsula Peace Regime Bureau, which handles issues related to inter-Korean cooperation.

Before holding the current post at Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office, he had served as the ministry's spokesperson and the presidential secretary for security strategy.

"The conditions surrounding the situation on the Korean Peninsula are fluid in many ways. I feel a great deal of responsibility for taking this job at this juncture," he said in a briefing meeting with reporters following the announcement.

"I will strive to establish close communication with the representatives of related countries as soon as possible, including those from the incoming Biden administration, so as to make meaningful progress in the peace process by the Moon Jae-in government," Noh said.

The outgoing negotiator, Lee, was appointed to the post in September 2017 and has become the longest-serving top nuclear envoy.

Lee has worked with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun in the denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang. The nuclear talks have remained at an impasse since the Hanoi summit of US President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong-un broke down without a deal. (Yonhap)