© Reuters. Noh Kyu-duk (R), South Korea’s special envoy for peace and security to the Korean peninsula, speaks with Sung Kim (L), U.S. special envoy for North Korea, during their bilateral meeting at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, 21st 2021. Jung
By Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea have agreed to consider dismissing a task force coordinating North Korea policy, the Seoul State Department said Tuesday after seeing it as an opportunity for Washington to block inter-Korean projects.
During talks between the US Special Envoy for North Korea Sung Kim and his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk on Monday, the two agreed to “consider the dissolution of the working group” while at the same time stepping up coordination at other levels, the ministry said in one Explanation with.
Kim said on Monday that he was ready to meet with the North Koreans “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” and was looking forward to a “positive reaction soon”. He was due to meet on Tuesday with the South Korean reunification minister, Lee In-young, who is responsible for relations with the north.
The working group was set up in 2018 to help the two allies coordinate their approaches on issues such as denuclearization talks, humanitarian aid, sanctions enforcement and inter-Korean relations, during a spate of diplomatic relations with North Korea.
When asked last year about Seoul’s proposals such as reopening individual tourism for its northern neighbor, then US Ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris, he said last year, “To avoid a later misunderstanding that could lead to sanctions … this by the working group. “
Although Harris added that it was not the place for the United States to endorse South Korean decisions, the Seoul rulings sparked controversy and a former advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-in later told Parliament that the working group was becoming increasingly an obstacle to those Cooperation -Korean Relations.
The Moon administration would see the termination of the working group as a gesture of goodwill from the new US President Joe Biden, said Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Korea expert at King’s College London.
“From a South Korean perspective, this was basically a mechanism for the US to block inter-Korean projects during the Trump years,” he said. “It would be a wise political move by the Biden administration to end the group as the Washington-Seoul consultations will take place anyway.”
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