Fri, Apr 13, 2018 - Page 6 News List

S Korea, US national security advisers to meet

AFP, SEOUL

South Korea’s national security adviser has flown to Washington to meet new US National Security Adviser John Bolton, an official said yesterday in Seoul, where concerns are growing over the US’ hardline stance on the nuclear-armed North.

South Korean National Security Office Director Chung Eui-yong, who last month personally delivered North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s summit offer to US President Donald Trump, returned to the US capital unannounced on Wednesday as the two allies plan their upcoming summits with Kim.

Chung was yesterday scheduled to meet Bolton, the official at the South’s presidential Blue House told reporters.

The meeting was a courtesy call aimed at “coordinating opinions ahead of the inter-Korean and US-North Korea summits,” he added.

The rare inter-Korean summit is scheduled to take place in just more than two weeks, while the meeting between Trump and Kim is expected as early as next month.

The appointment of Bolton — a mustachioed former US ambassador to the UN and strong defender of a US first-strike option against North Korea — has raised concerns in Seoul over the prospects of a diplomatic thaw on the Korean Peninsula.

Bolton’s stance on Pyongyang diverges sharply from the more dovish South Korean government, which had pushed hard for an early meeting with him, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.

“Bolton does not even mention the possibility of a peace treaty with Pyongyang,” which is sought by the South, Seoul-based University of North Korean Studies professor Koo Kab-woo said.

“If Bolton intervenes in the current diplomatic process [with North Korea], the need for coordination becomes much bigger,” Koo added.

In a growing rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula kick-started by the South’s Winter Olympics, Kim is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

Trump has agreed to meet Kim to discuss denuclearization as soon as next month, although no venue or specific date has been agreed.

The South Korean embassy in Washington and the US Department of State have agreed to set up a hotline in the buildup to the summits, Yonhap reported.

The Blue House is also set to launch a new situation room to monitor the preparations for its upcoming summit on a daily basis, it said yesterday.

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