Another top U.S. diplomat makes stop in Seoul

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Another top U.S. diplomat makes stop in Seoul

A top U.S. envoy for East Asian and Pacific affairs arrived in Seoul yesterday to further discuss regional issues and security cooperation following a string of senior Washington officials’ visits this month to discuss countermeasures to Pyongyang’s provocations.

Joseph Yun, U.S. acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is on a three-day trip to Korea as part of an Asia tour that kicked off in Beijing on Sunday and will wrap in Tokyo Wednesday. He returns to Washington Thursday.

The U.S. State Department said Yun will “consult and coordinate on a range of bilateral and regional issues, including measures to strengthen our bilateral engagement and to deepen our security and defense cooperation.”

Yun is to meet with senior foreign affairs officials today, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is expected to discuss the issue of the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs ahead of Korean President Park Geun-hye’s trip to Washington in May for a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Seoul trip next month.

The Korea-born Yun previously served as Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

“Improving the welfare of North Korea’s nearly 25 million people, who live under conditions which, as described by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea Marzuki Darusman, may constitute crimes against humanity, is an essential goal of our overall North Korea policy,” Yun said in an address to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last Thursday, ahead of his Asia trip.

Yun, an advocate of human rights and democracy in the Asia-Pacific region, cited the resolution co-sponsored by the U.S. that was passed unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council in order to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in North Korea.

David Cohen, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, made an Asia tour last week of the same three countries. He said in a Beijing stop Friday that China conveyed “strong intentions” to implement sanctions against North Korea. Ashton Carter, deputy defense secretary, also visited Seoul earlier and watched joint military exercises.

By Sarah Kim []

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