U.S. envoy to meet N.K. counterpart in Pyongyang on Wednesday

WASHINGTON. KAZINFORM -- The U.S. envoy for North Korea will travel to Pyongyang on Wednesday for talks with his North Korean counterpart on the next bilateral summit planned for later this month, the State Department said, Yonhap reports.

Special Representative Stephen Biegun will visit the North Korean capital from Seoul to meet with his newly appointed counterpart, Kim Hyok-chol, and prepare for the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the department said Monday.

The two men will also "advance further progress on the commitments the President and Chairman Kim made in Singapore," it said in a statement, referring to the first summit in June, at which the department noted the two leaders agreed to the goals of complete denuclearization, transformation of bilateral relations and the building of a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Biegun arrived in Seoul on Sunday for talks with South Korean officials ahead of his meeting with Kim, who previously served as North Korea's ambassador to Spain.
The two sides are expected to seek a deal on U.S. "corresponding measures" for North Korea's elimination of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Biegun made clear in a speech at Stanford University last week that Washington is ready to discuss those measures, although it won't lift sanctions on the regime until denuclearization is complete.

He also suggested that Trump is open to declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War -- a key North Korean demand -- to remove hostility that has plagued the two nations' relations since the conflict closed in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Trump said earlier that the venue and exact date of the next summit would be announced Tuesday during or shortly before his State of the Union address.

Vietnam has been floated as the likely host, with the venue in Hanoi or Da Nang.

Biegun last traveled to Pyongyang in October, when he accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to a meeting with Kim Jong-un.

In his speech last week, he said the North Korean leader had promised to dismantle and destroy all plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities, not just those in the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, if the U.S. took corresponding steps.

The North Koreans added the words "and more" in describing their commitment to dismantling and destroying the nuclear program, according to Biegun.

But before denuclearization is complete, the envoy said the U.S. will require a full declaration of the nuclear and missile programs as well as verification of their dismantlement.

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