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US deputy secretary to visit Tokyo, Seoul for trilateral talks on North Korea

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Wendy Sherman to meet Japanese, South Korean counterparts to discuss regional security, COVID-19 relief

US deputy secretary to visit Tokyo, Seoul for trilateral talks on North Korea
mage: State Department photo by William Ng/ Public Domain | Wendy Sherman speaking in Tokyo, Jan. 2015

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will visit Japan and South Korea for talks with her counterparts on North Korea and pandemic relief, among other issues, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.

Sherman, South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo will discuss “regional security issues such as the DPRK, as well as climate change and global health,” the State Department said in a press release.

Seoul’s foreign ministry said the trilateral talks will take place in Tokyo on July 21, and afterward Sherman will visit South Korea from July 21 to 23 for bilateral talks with her ROK counterparts.

Sherman’s upcoming visit will mark her second meeting with Choi in recent months, following their talks in Washington in June. The South Korean vice foreign minister recently said he remains positive about the prospects of a breakthrough with Pyongyang despite recent North Korean statements rejecting talks with the U.S.

Sherman’s trip, which will conclude in Mongolia, also follows back-to-back high-level visits to Seoul by the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim and U.S. Strategic Command Commander Charles Richard following the U.S.-ROK summit in May.

During his visit to Seoul in June, Kim offered to meet with North Korea “anywhere, anytime, without preconditions,” and Kim and his South Korean counterpart also agreed to conclude the operation of the joint working group on DPRK nuclear issues and sanctions.

Richard visited South Korea this week to discuss the allies’ deterrence posture, as the countries prepare to hold joint drills in August.

Deputy Secretary Sherman, who assumed office in April, has previously stressed the importance of diplomacy with the DPRK. During an interview with CNN in 2018, she welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s agreement to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying that “talk is certainly better than war” and that the U.S. needs to “give diplomacy a chance.”

During her confirmation hearing in March, Sherman also reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to work toward the denuclearization of North Korea.

“The United States has to use every tool available, including pressure, to prevent North Korea from advancing its nuclear capability,” she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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