U.S.' N.Korea Point Man Arrives in Seoul at Critical Juncture

  • By Lee Yong-soo

    December 16, 2019 09:33

    U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, arrived in Seoul on Sunday with a team of negotiators just two days after the North conducted what is thought to have been another long-range missile-engine test.

    Biegun hopes to meet North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui at the border, which could lead to a breakthrough ahead of a year-end deadline for the resumption of nuclear talks set by the North.

    U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun has dinner with his team of negotiators, including Allison Hooker of the National Security Council, in Jong-no, Seoul on Sunday. /Yonhap

    Before leaving for Seoul on Saturday, Biegun said U.S. policy on North Korea remains unchanged. The U.S. apparently does not intend to be moved by the unilateral, year-end deadline.

    But Biegun is accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Korea Alex Wong and Allison Hooker, a National Security Council official.

    Missiles blast off in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province on March 18, 2017 (left) and in Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province on Nov. 29, 2017, in this combined photo from the [North] Korean Central News Agency.

    The hope to meet Choe at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

    A spokesman for North Korea's Academy of National Defense Science on Saturday told the official KCNA news agency that another "crucial test" was successfully conducted at its rocket launch site in Tongchang-ri.

    The test "will be applied to further bolster up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent" of North Korea, the spokesman added.

    The North appears to have tested a new engine for a long-range missile capable of carrying twice the payload of existing missiles.

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