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US, South Korea, Japan Plan to Discuss North Korea

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Sung Kim speaks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year about the nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula.
Sung Kim speaks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year about the nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula.

Representatives of the United States, South Korea and Japan are meeting in Washington Thursday.

A senior official in Seoul said Monday they are to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue.

The envoys are expected to share their ideas on the security situation in the Korean peninsula. They also are expected to discuss ways to revive diplomatic efforts to resolve disputes over North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons. The official who made the statement did not want to be named.

The official said the envoys are also likely to reaffirm the commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Recently, North Korea demanded a peace treaty between the United States and the communist country.

The United States rejected the idea, saying North Korea must end its nuclear weapons program before a treaty can be considered.

The U.S. State Department says the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy -- Sung Kim -- and South Korean Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs -- Hwang Joon-kook --- will take part.

Japanese Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Kimihiro Ishikane will also attend the talks on Thursday.

This will be the first trilateral meeting of the envoys in nearly seven months. It takes place as relations between the Koreas improve. Last week, the two Koreas agreed to hold rare high-level talks next week.

Chang Yong-suk, a senior researcher at Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies. He said the envoys will try to find out if progress in ties between the Koreas will affect the nuclear issue.

Another expert who follows the nuclear issue closely said the trilateral meeting will address North Korea's efforts to develop its missile technology.

Last week, North Korea reportedly carried out a submarine-launched ballistic missile test. U.N. sanctions ban North Korea from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology.

The trilateral meeting follows a visit by the South Korean envoy to China. Hwang traveled to Beijing last week and met with China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei to discuss North Korea.

On Monday, North Korea criticized South Korea for participating in the meeting. North Korea's state-run newspaper Rodong Shinmun accused South Korea of creating, what it called, an "anti-DPRK nuclear racket" with the U.S. and other forces.

Six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula have not taken place since December 2008.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Kim Hwan Yong reported this story from Seoul and Jee Abbey Lee contributed to it. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Do you have something to say about the talks, the Korean Peninsula, or Japan? Please leave us a Comment or a post on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

revive - v. to bring back into use, to restart

envoy - n. a person sent by a government to represent it in dealing with other governments

reaffirm - v. to state something again

denuclearization - n. having to do with removing nuclear weapons

trilateral - adj. involving three groups or countries

sanctions - n. actions taken or an order given to force a country to obey international law by limiting or stopping trade

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