South Korean Minister to Visit Washington This Week

Posted October 31st, 2011 at 2:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

South Korea says Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik will visit the United States this week to coordinate policy on North Korea.

The visit will be Yu's first to Washington since he took charge of North Korea policy in September promising to be more flexible than his hard-line predecessor. The visit comes amid accelerating diplomacy aimed at setting terms for a resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programs.

Officials said Monday that Yu will be in the American capital from Wednesday. He will be in New York Saturday for talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – a fellow South Korean – on humanitarian issues related to North Korea.

A combination of floods and drought have left North Korea facing serious food shortages, prompting the United Nations to mount an international appeal for help.

The crisis may also have prompted North Korea's bid to revive the nuclear talks, which it abandoned more than two years ago. Since July, its diplomats have held two rounds of direct talks each with South Korea and the United States, the most recent coming last week.

The six-nation talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, are aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid. North Korea says it wants to resume the talks, but without preconditions set by the U.S. and South Korea, including a suspension of its uranium enrichment program.