SINGAPORE – Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for North Korea, held talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Singapore on Friday. Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang are currently at a standstill.
The trilateral meeting was the first since North Korea fired projectiles that appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles on May 4 and May 9 in an apparent attempt to coax Washington into making concessions in denuclearization negotiations.
Biegun met with Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Lee Do-hoon, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs.
The outcome of the talks was not immediately available, but they probably exchanged views on how to pave the way for the resumption of denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang, which have been stalled following the collapse of the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi in late February.
For the United States, the state of the trilateral partnership is another concern, given strains in Japan-South Korea ties. Relations between the two East Asian neighbors have deteriorated over a series of disputes based on differing interpretations of thorny issues related to wartime history.
In Singapore, the Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, is scheduled to take place for three days through Sunday.
As for Pyongyang’s recent missile launches, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this month that North Korea fired off “some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” indicating Washington is taking a wait-and-see attitude.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, has expressed willingness to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “without conditions” to resolve the long-standing issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.