US envoy for North Korea in EU for talks on denuclearisation

WASHINGTON • The top American diplomat on North Korea heads to Europe for talks on removing nuclear weapons from the Asian peninsula, the US State Department said, a week after an impromptu meeting between US President Donald Trump and the North's Mr Kim Jong Un.

Special Representative Stephen Biegun will be in Brussels and then Berlin through Thursday to meet Mr Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's special representative on peace and security, among others.

The sessions will "advance our shared efforts to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea", according to the statement released on Saturday .

Mr Biegun departs a week after Mr Trump and Mr Kim's meeting at the Demilitarised Zone dividing the Korean peninsula, an impromptu session both men said would lead to a restart of discussions that collapsed after their Hanoi summit in February.

After the one-hour meeting on June 30, US officials were unable to say whether Mr Trump's gambit would move Mr Kim any closer to giving up his nuclear ambitions.

A week ago, during the Group of 20 leaders' meeting in Japan, Mr Biegun reaffirmed that the US is ready for constructive talks to make progress in negotiations with North Korea.

Mr Trump, in a telephone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May last Friday, discussed the "final, fully verified" removal of nuclear weapons in North Korea, among other national security topics, according to a White House statement.

They also discussed the nuclear deal with Iran. The US has warned European allies - who are trying to press forward with the Iran nuclear accord that the US has quit - against using any sanction workarounds to prop up the deal.

Mr Trump has also warned Iran over its pledge to enrich more uranium. Mrs May will step down this month as British prime minister.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2019, with the headline 'US envoy for North Korea in EU for talks on denuclearisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe