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(3rd LD) Senior diplomats of S. Korea, U.S. hold phone talks over bilateral ties, cooperation

22:59 June 14, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 5, 8; RECASTS 7th para)

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- Senior diplomats of South Korea and the United States held phone talks on Friday to discuss ways to build a lasting peace on the peninsula and other issues of mutual concern, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

In the morning, Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan had their first phone conversation since Cho took office last month.

They shared the understanding that U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Seoul, slated for late this month, will serve as a crucial opportunity to discuss ways to establish a lasting peace regime on the peninsula through the complete denuclearization of the peninsula and to strengthen the bilateral alliance, the ministry said.

Trump plans to visit Seoul after attending the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.

During the phone talks, Sullivan voiced his expectation that the two sides will closely communicate and cooperate for the continued development of the bilateral relationship, according to the ministry.

Cho pledged active cooperation with the U.S. at a time that he said is crucial for the development of the alliance and for progress in the ongoing efforts to foster an enduring peace on the peninsula.

This photo, taken on May 24, 2019, shows Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young speaking during his inauguration ceremony at the foreign ministry in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson of the State Department, said that Cho and Sullivan reaffirmed their commitment to the final, fully verified denuclearization of the North and the importance of trilateral cooperation among the South, the U.S. and Japan. She also said that they committed to continuing to work closely together to address common security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

The U.S. has recently been stressing the need for trilateral cooperation with its two Asian allies as Seoul and Tokyo have been at loggerheads over Japan's wartime forced labor and other thorny issues.

Meanwhile, the local newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit Seoul ahead of Trump's visit here for a summit with Moon, amid hopes for the resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

But an official at Seoul's foreign ministry said that regarding Biegun's possible trip here, nothing has been determined yet.

"There have always been close consultations between South Korea and the United States over related issues," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The nuclear talks between the U.S. and the North have been stalled since the second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February ended without a deal.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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