SEOUL – South Korea and the United States will hold on Thursday the first meeting of a bilateral working group, which comes weeks after the failed Hanoi summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
According to Yonhap news agency, Rhee Dong-yeol, who heads the South Korean foreign ministry’s bureau of peace in the peninsula, left on Wednesday for Washington for his meeting with Alex Wong, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea.
This will be the first meeting of the so-called working group which was set up by the US and South Korea in November to give impetus to denuclearization talks with North Korea.
The summit in Hanoi between Kim and Trump towards the end of February ended abruptly without a consensus or a joint declaration between the two countries on possible denuclearization and sanction wavering. Seoul has acted as an important mediator between Washington and Pyongyang.
Yonhap said the two sides in their meeting on Thursday were expected to discuss ways to revitalize the denuclearization process after the Hanoi failure.
Seoul is also expected to seek waiver of sanctions for a planned video reunions of families separated by the Korean War (1950-53), Yonhap said.
For these video reunions to happen, it will be necessary to transfer to North Korea some equipment that comes within the ambit of sanctions against North Korea.
South Korea and the US are also expected to discuss two projects of economic cooperation between the two Koreas that Seoul and Pyongyang want to resume, but are again subject of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea for conducted nuclear weapon tests.
However, the possibility of making advances in this regard remain slim following the failure to reach an agreement at the Hanoi summit.
Although Washington and Pyongyang give different versions of what transpired at the negotiating table at Hanoi, the disagreement between the two parties hovered around the number of North Korean nuclear assets that would be dismantled and the amount of international sanctions that would be lifted as a corresponding measure.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was with Trump in Hanoi, has said that Washington had called for North Korea to do away with chemical and biological weapons from its arsenal, besides dismantling its nuclear program.