U.S. Downplays Upcoming Singapore Meeting With North Korea

Excerpts:

Diplomatic sources have told Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang’s chief nuclear envoy, Ri Yong-ho, and other senior North Korean diplomats will hold two days of meetings in Singapore beginning Sunday with former U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth and other American security experts.

Other North Korean officials set to attend the Singapore meetings will include deputy nuclear envoy Choe Son-hui and Jang Il-hun, the North’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, according to the sources.

Their American counterparts will also include former deputy nuclear negotiator Joseph DeTrani; Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council; and Tony Namkung, former deputy director of Berkeley’s Institute for East Asian Studies, they said.

U.S. Downplays Upcoming Singapore Meeting With North Korea

http://english.yonhapnews.co. kr/northkorea/2015/01/13/39/ 0401000000AEN20150113000300315 F.html

2015/01/13 06:05

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) — The United States on Monday played down an upcoming meeting between North Korea’s chief nuclear envoy and former U.S. negotiators, saying it would only be “one of many” nongovernmental meetings held to discuss security issues in East Asia.

Diplomatic sources have told Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang’s chief nuclear envoy, Ri Yong-ho, and other senior North Korean diplomats will hold two days of meetings in Singapore beginning Sunday with former U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth and other American security experts.

“We are aware of reports that a ‘Track 2’ meeting might take place this month,” a State Department official told Yonhap News Agency in response to a request for comment on the Singapore meetings.

“Track 2” diplomacy refers to nongovernmental, unofficial contacts between private citizens or groups of individuals while “Track 1” diplomacy refers to officials government-to-government contacts.

“This would be one of many Track 2 meetings held to discuss East Asia political and security issues. The U.S. government is not involved in the proposed event,” the official said.

Other North Korean officials set to attend the Singapore meetings will include deputy nuclear envoy Choe Son-hui and Jang Il-hun, the North’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, according to the sources.

Their American counterparts will also include former deputy nuclear negotiator Joseph DeTrani; Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council; and Tony Namkung, former deputy director of Berkeley’s Institute for East Asian Studies, they said.

The envisioned meetings come after North Korea offered to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in exchange for a halt to joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. Washington rejected the proposal as an “implicit threat.”

Relations between the U.S. and the North have worsened further recently following a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. The U.S. has blamed the North for carrying out the attacks and imposed fresh sanctions, but Pyongyang has categorically denied any involvement.

Though the U.S. government will not be involved, the upcoming meetings could be a chance for the two sides to better understand each other’s position on how to resume the six-party talks that have been on hold since the last session in late 2008.

jschang@yna.co.kr

(END)

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