(ATTN: UPDATES with background, details)
WASHINGTON, April 16 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will travel to Russia this week for talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the State Department said Tuesday.
Biegun, who is in charge of day-to-day negotiations with Pyongyang, is due to visit Moscow Wednesday and Thursday to meet with Russian officials and discuss "efforts to advance the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," the department said in a statement.
The trip comes amid reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold their first-ever summit in Russia next week.
Senior officials from the two sides were recently seen in each other's capitals, spurring speculation they were preparing for a summit.
Analysts have said Kim may try to move closer to Russia and China after his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in February collapsed without any deal.
The breakdown was attributed to a gap between U.S. demands for complete denuclearization and North Korean demands for significant sanctions relief.
Kim said in a speech to the North's parliament last week that he will wait patiently until the end of the year for the U.S. to make a bold decision regarding their negotiations.