South Korea’s chief of North Korean affairs will visit the United States this week to discuss Seoul’s recent policies on Pyongyang and pending regional issues, the Unification Ministry here said Monday.
The visit will be first to the U.S. by South Korean Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik, who took over the post from his hardline predecessor last month.
President Lee Myung-bak’s appointment of Yu has been seen as an indication of Seoul’s softening stance toward North Korea.
Yu has repeated a willingness to exercise “flexibility” toward the communist rival state, raising hopes of eased tension on the divided peninsula.
During his stay in Washington D.C. and New York Nov. 2-7, Yu will be meeting with officials from the U.S. government, Congress and scholars. He will call for “continued cooperation” between Seoul and Washington on dealing with North Korea, Yu’s ministry said.
On Saturday, Yu will also meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss humanitarian and other issues related to North Korea, it added.
Yu’s visit takes place as partners of the six-nation talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea have been escalating consultations over when and how to resume the crucial dialogue.
Last week, senior diplomats from Pyongyang and Washington met in Geneva, with both sides reporting some progress in bridging the opinion gap over how to restart the talks that have been stalled since the end of 2008.
Pyongyang wants immediate resumption of the dialogue, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, apparently desperate for the aid it will receive in return for dismantling its nuclear facilities.
By Shin Hae-in (email@example.com