North Korean envoy leaves for Geneva for talks with US

Seoul, Nov 15 (IANS) North Korea’s Deputy Director for North American affairs Choe Son-hui has left for Geneva to hold talks with experts and diplomats from the US, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

During her layover at the Beijing airport, Choe told the media that she was going to attend a meeting with old friends, EFE news agency reported.

The South Korean ministry and other experts in Seoul believe the North Korean envoy is scheduled to hold talks with former US politicians and diplomats in a meeting similar to the one held in Kuala Lumpur last month.

On October 21 and 22, North Korea’s vice foreign minister Han Song-ryol, and the North’s UN Ambassador Jang Il-hun met former US envoys Joseph DeTrani and Robert Gallucci and expert Leon Sigal to discuss the conflict between the two countries.

Choe’s meeting in Geneva would be the first of its kind since Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections.

It is believed that North Korea is trying to gather information on the position of Trump’s administration towards the Kim Jong-un regime.

Dialogue between the two countries were stalled during US President Barack Obama’s term, following an intensification of conflict due to North Korea’s nuclear arms programme.

The Obama administration, who demands North Korea take a firm step towards denuclearisation before initiating talks, has adopted a policy of tough economic and trade sanctions against the country to choke its economy and force it to abandon its nuclear programme.

Meanwhile, North Korea has called for dialogue without preconditions, and demanded it be recognised as a nuclear state and a definitive peace treaty with South Korea to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War (1950-53).

During his election campaign, Trump did not rule out a meeting with Kim Jong-un and also mentioned a possible re-negotiation of military alliances with its allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, including a withdrawal of US troops from these countries.

–IANS

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