Top United States nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun said Friday that cooperation between Seoul and Washington on North Korea can help end the longstanding hostility on the Korean Peninsula and usher in a “brighter” chapter” for all people here.
Biegun made the remarks during a meeting with South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon in Seoul. He was in Seoul to hold a second “working group” meeting with top South Korean officials handling North Korean issues.
“The work we do together is not just for U.S.-South Korean relations. It’s for the future of the Korean Peninsula,” Biegun said.
“And if we are successful, we will close the chapter of the 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula and create a new, brighter future for all of the Korean people,” he added.
His trip to South Korea came amid deadlocked nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea since their historic summit in June where the two agreed to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang wants sanctions relief in return for what it claims to be substantive denuclearization steps. Washington asks for more tangible steps before making major concessions.
The stalled denuclearization talks have taken a toll on Seoul’s push to expand cross-border exchanges in various areas, including inter-Korean railway and road connection, a project that the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to in April.
The two Koreas recently concluded an 18-day inspection of the North’s railways in the western and eastern regions after monthslong delay caused by concerns over violations of sanctions on Pyongyang.
The United Nations earlier granted a sanctions waiver to the project. It came after Washington supported the railway project, a turnaround from its apparent reluctance to endorse it.
During the meeting with Cho, Biegun expressed “excitement” about the project.
“I’m excited to hear the results of the joint rail survey, it was led by your ministry. We watched with great excitement as the trains launched into North Korea,” he said.
Seoul and Pyongyang are currently preparing to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the joint project at Panmun Station in Kaesong on Wednesday.
Details have yet to be determined, including who will attend and how the event will be organized. An advance team has not been sent to the North to prepare for the ceremony. (Yonhap)