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US Envoy to Meet With South, N Korean Counterparts Ahead of Trump-Kim Summit

© AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon / People pass by a TV screen showing file footages of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 9, 2018
People pass by a TV screen showing file footages of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 9, 2018 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun is scheduled to meet with his North and South Korean counterparts in Seoul on 3 February, the Department of State said in a press release.

"Biegun will travel to Seoul February 3 for a meeting with ROK [Republic of Korea] Special Representative Lee Do-hoon," the release said on Thursday. "Biegun will also have follow-up meetings with his North Korean counterpart [Kim Hak Chul] to discuss next steps to advance our objective of the final fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and steps to make further progress on all the commitments the two leaders made in Singapore".

In a speech at Stanford University Thursday afternoon, Biegun noted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had sought unspecified reciprocal measures from the United States in exchange for denuclearization. "Exactly what these measures are is a matter I plan to discuss with my North Korean counterpart", Biegun said.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from right, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, right, stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from left, and his wife Ri Sol Ju on the Mount Paektu in North Korea, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 - Sputnik International
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Biegun also noted that the United States is working with the UN Sanctions Committee to clear up a backlog of requests from humanitarian groups for access to North Korea as both aid providers and aid monitors.

In January, the sanctions committee approved aid projects proposed by groups from Switzerland, the United States, Britain, France, Canada and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Stephen Biegun also stressed that Washington is embarking on a series of negotiations with Pyongyang ahead of a late February Trump-Kim summit to develop a roadmap for denuclearization.

READ MORE: US Still Awaits Concrete Steps From North Korea on its Nuclear Program — Pence

"We expect to hold working level negotiations with our North Korean counterparts in advance of the summit, with the intention of achieving a set of concrete deliverables, a roadmap of negotiations and declarations going forward and a shared understanding of the desired outcome of our joint efforts", Biegun said Thursday.

Other issues involve recovery of remains from 5,000 US soldiers who never returned from the Korean War and Washington’s desire for a permanent peace to replace an armistice that ended the war, and full normalization of relations with embassies in each nation's capital, Beijun said.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participate in a signing ceremony during a meeting on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore - Sputnik International
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Trump told reporters Thursday that he would announce the date and the venue of the new meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next week, adding that his administration is making tremendous progress with Pyongyang.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has reportedly improved since beginning of 2018 during which time North and South Korea concluded important agreements and Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump held a historic summit in Singapore in June last year. The two leaders concluded an agreement stipulating that Pyongyang would make efforts to promote the complete denuclearization of the peninsula in exchange for Washington and Seoul freezing their military drills and a potential lifting of US sanctions.

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However, US National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told Tuesday the US Senate Intelligence Committee that North Korea would likely try to retain its nuclear weapon capabilities, even though Pyongyang has not conducted any nuclear-capable missile or nuclear tests in more than a year. Similarly, CIA Director Gina Haspel warned Tuesday that Pyongyang mulls the development of a long-range nuclear missile that could pose a direct threat to the United States.

The first ever US-North Korean summit was held in Singapore on 12 June. Following the meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un confirmed his intention to denuclearize, and US President Donald Trump pledged to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang. Since then, Pyongyang has been waiting for Washington to fulfil the agreements reached, and the US administration is unhappy about the lack of new steps by the DPRK on nuclear disarmament.    

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