New deputy FM heads to U.S. for bilateral talks

SEOUL-- Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gunn departed for the United States on Thursday for his first meeting with his U.S. counterpart since assuming the post last month, a foreign ministry official here said.

Kim is expected to hold talks with David Stilwell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, in Washington, on Friday (local time), and discuss various issues of mutual concern, the official told reporters.

Kim could also meet Allison Hooker, senior director at the U.S. National Security Council, as well as experts from think tanks, the official said.

Seoul and Washington have an array of pending bilateral issues, including the ongoing negotiations on determining Seoul's share of the costs for stationing American troops here.

The allies have reportedly been in talks to set up a series of high-level meetings within this month between the top diplomats and also one between the chief nuclear envoys.

Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's top nuclear negotiator, is planning a trip to Washington as early as next week for talks with his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, on the reported outcome of North Korea's latest key party meeting this week, according to diplomatic sources.

After a rare four-day party plenum that ended Tuesday, the communist state said it no longer saw a reason to keep the self-declared suspension on nuclear and long-range missile tests, accusing the U.S. of abusing the denuclearization talks for its own political interest.

The North also warned of soon revealing a "new strategic weapon" and possibly taking "a shocking actual action" if the U.S. maintains what it calls its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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