Unification minister to visit U.S. next month

SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister plans to visit the United States next month in an apparent bid to soothe skepticism among officials and experts over the North's denuclearization commitment and peace talks on the Korean Peninsula.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will meet senior U.S. officials and scholars during his visit to Washington set for Nov. 13-17, a ministry official said Tuesday, asking not to be named.

"Detailed schedules are being arranged," the official said. "The mid-November visit is being pushed, though it may be changed, depending on the second North Korea-U.S. summit and inter-Korean events."

"The focus will be on promoting understanding of the North Korea issue in the U.S. political and private sectors," he added.

The minister will also attend the annual Korea Global Forum in the city on Nov. 15 and meet Korean residents, he said. The conference, launched in 2010, is hosted by the ministry to discuss Korean Peninsula issues with U.S. officials and experts.

The top official in charge of North Korea affairs accompanied President Moon Jae-in on his trip last month to Pyongyang for a summit with leader Kim Jong-un. He also led the South's delegation to the North last week for a joint celebration of the anniversary of the second inter-Korean summit in 2007.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday he and Kim had made "significant progress" toward denuclearization during their meeting in Pyongyang on Sunday, and got "pretty close" to agreeing on a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.

Kim invited U.S. inspectors to the dismantled Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the northeast, which the North exploded in May in a show of its commitment to denuclearization, Pompeo said.

In Moscow, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Sun-hui met with her Chinese and Russian counterparts on Tuesday for about three hours. No details of the meeting were immediately available.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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