Substantial progress made on humanitarian cooperation on N. Korea, chief nuclear envoy says
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Commenting on this, Noh said it "shows how strongly committed both South Korean and US governments are to achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace."
He also said it was a "signal of the sincere efforts by the South Korean and US governments to get the ball rolling on dialogue with North Korea, which we have been consistently unable to do."
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Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, said Sunday that there had been “substantial progress with discussions toward the joint pursuit of a South Korea-US project of humanitarian cooperation on North Korea.”
His remarks came as he was meeting with reporters at Incheon International Airport on his way to Tokyo for discussions with senior representatives from the US and Japan on the North Korean nuclear issue.
“The most important thing will be initiating dialogue with North Korea,” he said when asked what the focus of the discussions would be.
Noh also said that South Korea and the US were “discussing various ideas for resuming dialogue” in addition to the humanitarian cooperation project.
“We also plan to explain to the Japanese government about the discussions, where there’s been substantial progress between South Korea and the US, and help boost their understanding, while discussing ideas for cooperation with Japan,” he said.
The South Korean government has held discussions with the US on public health, infectious disease prevention, potable water, and hygiene as areas where humanitarian cooperation with North Korea would be possible.
Noh’s reference to “substantial progress” suggests the two sides have made headway in examining the regulations on sanctions against North Korea concerning specific humanitarian aid efforts. The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been making preparations to begin such efforts immediately once it receives a favorable response from Pyongyang.
Noh, who is visiting Tokyo at the request of the Japanese government, was scheduled to meet Monday with Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, for discussions as the South Korean and Japanese senior representatives on the North Korean nuclear issue. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to hold discussions with Sung Kim, US special representative for North Korea.
The South Korea-US discussions are drawing attention for coming soon after previous talks in Seoul on Aug. 23 and in Washington, DC, on Aug. 30.
Commenting on this, Noh said it “shows how strongly committed both South Korean and US governments are to achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace.”
He also said it was a “signal of the sincere efforts by the South Korean and US governments to get the ball rolling on dialogue with North Korea, which we have been consistently unable to do.”
The US decision to agree to unusually active discussions has been seen as reflecting its position that with the Biden administration on the political defensive in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it needs to work to keep the situation on the Korean Peninsula on stable footing.
Three-party discussions between South Korea, the US and Japan were last held three months ago in Seoul on June 21.
By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter
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