U.S. nuclear envoy to visit Seoul for talks about N.K. projectiles, food aid

SEOUL, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was to arrive in Seoul on Wednesday for talks expected to focus on Pyongyang's recent firing of short-range projectiles and possible food aid to the impoverished communist nation.

During a four-day visit, Biegun will meet with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the foreign ministry, and attend a session of the joint "working group" established to coordinate policy on Pyongyang.

The trip comes four days after the North fired a barrage of short-range projectiles off the east coast Saturday, including what it claimed was a newly developed "tactical guided weapon," in an apparent show of frustration over the stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

Despite the firings, Seoul and Washington have shown measured responses without denouncing the act as a provocation in an apparent effort to keep the negotiating process with Pyongyang alive. The two sides have also been talking about providing food aid to the North.

U.S. President Donald Trump also expressed support for offering food assistance to the North when he spoke by phone with President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday night (Korean time), saying it will be a "well-timed and positive measure."

Food aid is expected to be a key topic at Biegun's working group meeting with the South.

In 2017 the South Korean government set aside US$8 million in humanitarian aid for North Korea, but the plan never materialized due to the sanctions on the North.

The latest joint report by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization showed that 10 million, or 40 percent of the North's population, are in urgent need of food.

Biegun may also pay a courtesy visit to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and meet with Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul for talks on the North Korea issues.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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