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Seoul’s new nuclear envoy holds phone calls with US, Japan counterparts

Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea`s new chief nuclear negotiator, is shown in this photo provided by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea`s new chief nuclear negotiator, is shown in this photo provided by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s new top nuclear negotiator, spoke on the phone with counterparts in Washington and Tokyo, in his first such talks since his appointment this week, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
 
On Tuesday evening, Noh held phone talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who doubles as Washington’s point person on North Korea. During the conversation, Biegun congratulated Noh on his appointment and reaffirmed the US’ commitment to resuming talks with North Korea. The US envoy also said he will work closely with Noh on coordinating and cooperating with Seoul over policy on Pyongyang.
 
Noh, in response, said the two countries should continue communication and cooperation to stably manage the situation during the transition period in Washington.
 
On Wednesday morning, Noh talked on the phone with Takehiro Funakoshi, the new director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
 
The two sides shared assessments on the Korean Peninsula situation and exchanged views on ways to cooperate between Korea and Japan, as well as between the two countries and the US to bring progress in achieving complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, the Foreign Ministry said.
 
Noh’s appointment comes as US President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn into office on Jan. 20, which will likely bring a notable shift in Washington’s approach to Pyongyang from the outgoing Donald Trump administration. Seoul is seeking closer cooperation with Washington and Tokyo to revive nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang and make a breakthrough in stalled denuclearization talks and the peace process on the peninsula.
 
“I will strive to establish close communication with the representatives of related countries as soon as possible, including those from the incoming Biden administration, to make meaningful progress in the Moon Jae-in administration’s peace process,” he told reporters Monday after the appointment.
   
Noh, a career diplomat who served as the presidential secretary for peace planning, was named special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, replacing Lee Do-hoon, the longest-serving nuclear envoy, who has led the working-level talks with Pyongyang since September 2017.
 
By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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