Foreign minister makes unexpected trip to D.C.

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Foreign minister makes unexpected trip to D.C.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se holds his first talks with U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington today and the conversation will be about North Korea and other important bilateral issues

Yun’s visit to the U.S. was unexpected as Kerry is slated to visit Korea later this month.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Minister Yun, during his visit to the United States, will meet with important personnel in the [Obama] administration and build channels for policy consultations.”

“He will closely fine-tune foreign policies, including policy on North Korea, and hold consultations to prepare for President Park’s successful visit to the U.S., which is expected to be in early May,” the ministry spokesman added.

On the three-day trip, which runs until Thursday, Yun will meet with high-ranking U.S. officials in foreign affairs, defense and security, North Korea and Asia experts and visit think tanks, said the ministry.

The minister will be accompanied by top nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam, who is slated to meet Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, to discuss Pyongyang’s torrent of provocations and threats following its third nuclear test.

Through his visit, Yun plans to “to boost U.S. understanding and support of our new administration’s North Korea policy and plans for peaceful cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region,” the ministry said, “And collect opinions on how to enforce the Korea-U.S. alliance in light of the two nations’ new administrations.”

The visit comes ahead of an Asia tour by Kerry slated for later this month and President Park Geun-hye’s first U.S. visit in May.

“Secretary of State John Kerry invited Minister Yun to the United States in their phone conversation [on March 16],” said a foreign ministry official, “And the minister determined it will be more effective to speak on North Korea on location in the U.S.”

Yun is also expected to discuss a bilateral nuclear accord that is due to expire next March. Korea has pushed the United States to lift its longtime ban on the reprocessing of spent fuel or the enriching of uranium.

Yun met with U.S. Senator Bob Corker, top Republican of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday in Seoul.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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