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S. Korea paying close attention to US-NK nuke talks: ambassador

WASHINGTON -- South Korea is paying close attention to the outcome of this weekend's denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea, while maintaining communication with Washington, Seoul's top envoy here said Friday.

Ambassador Cho Yoon-je made the remark at an annual parliamentary audit of the South Korean Embassy in Washington, noting that the U.S. and North Korea are scheduled to resume working-level denuclearization talks in Sweden Saturday.

"(We are) paying close attention to the outcome," he said, adding that South Korea and the US "are continuing strategic communication for meaningful progress in the working-level negotiations."

US President Donald Trump (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (AFP)
US President Donald Trump (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (AFP)

U.S. and North Korean negotiators arrived in Stockholm this week to resume working-level talks that have stalled since a February summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without any agreement.

The two sides are expected to focus on finding common ground between U.S. demands for the North's complete and verified denuclearization and Pyongyang's demands for sanctions relief and security guarantees.

Cho also said the embassy plans to encourage the US to play whatever role it can to resolve the ongoing dispute between South Korea and Japan over trade and wartime history.

On Seoul's decision to pull of a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, the ambassador said South Korea and the US are "managing the situation through close communication."

Washington has expressed its strong concern and disappointment at Seoul's decision to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement, citing potential negative impacts on trilateral cooperation against North Korea's nuclear threats and China's military rise. (Yonhap)