Yun to talk North Korea, Japan with U.S. officials

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Yun to talk North Korea, Japan with U.S. officials

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is scheduled to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tomorrow in Washington, where he is expected to coordinate North Korea policy and raise concerns over Japan’s increasingly nationalistic movements.

Yun said he expects that affairs in North Korea following the execution of Jang Song-thaek, the powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-un, will be a key issue in discussions. After laying wreaths at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, he told reporters that the talks will be “important in coordinating North Korea policy in the coming years” and that several issues will be discussed “in-depth.”

Yun arrived in Washington on Sunday to kick off a three-day visit to the United States, where he will speak with U.S. officials on various bilateral issues, as well as North Korea, and exacerbated tensions in Northeast Asia.

He was scheduled to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday and will speak with Kerry local time on Tuesday.

Yun said he plans to raise the issue of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on Dec. 26. Abe’s visit there, which enshrines the war dead including 14 Class-A war criminals, was immediately criticized by Beijing and Seoul as a move that would only lead to further strain in diplomatic and political relations. Washington also issued a short statement through the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo expressing its disappointment toward Abe’s visit to Yasukuni, calling it “an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors.”

“The current internal situation in Japan is bringing about concern not only in Northeast Asian countries but in the international community,” Yun stated. He said he plans to explain Korea’s position to U.S. leaders regarding Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine and added that he will try to “deepen understanding,” as it is an issue that has “drawn the common interest of the international community.”

Kerry is expected to express his official stance on Abe’s visit to the controversial shrine.

Other key issues on the table include China’s unilateral declaration of an air defense identification zone in November, the ongoing negotiations for budget allocation for the stationing of U.S. troops in Korea, and Seoul’s request for a delay in the transfer of wartime operational control.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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