U.S. envoy meets with chiefs of ruling, main opposition parties

SEOUL, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris met with the chiefs of the ruling and main opposition parties Thursday to exchange views on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Seoul-Washington alliance.

Harris visited the National Assembly to meet with Lee Hae-chan, the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), and Kim Byoung-joon, the interim leader of the opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP). The new U.S. envoy began his official work in July.

The meeting comes ahead of President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's third summit, which will be held in Pyongyang from next Tuesday to Thursday amid stalled denuclearization talks between the United States and the North.

In his meeting with Lee, Harris said that U.S. President Donald Trump's reaffirmation of the April inter-Korean summit deal during his June meeting with the North's leader in Singapore indicates that inter-Korean talks are closely tied to denuclearization.

The DP chief said that he plans to emphasize the importance of denuclearization to North Korean officials when he accompanies Moon on the trip to Pyongyang.

"Based on the alliance, South Korea and the United States need to coordinate in realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishing a peace regime. As you took office, I hope that (the two countries) can work together (for these goals)," Lee added.

Meanwhile, Kim of the LKP expressed hope that a revised free trade deal between South Korea and the U.S. could help support the Korean economy, which is showing signs of a slowdown.

In March, Seoul and Washington officially announced their agreement on the revision of their free trade agreement (FTA), and it is awaiting signing by their leaders and parliamentary ratification.

Harris also voiced hope that the free trade agreement will be smoothly ratified at the National Assembly.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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