UPDATE : 2019.12.6 FRI 17:52
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S. Korea, U.S. to seek ways to maintain dialogue momentum with N.K.: envoy

South Korea and the United States will seek ways to maintain dialogue with North Korea following the breakdown of last week's working-level denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, Seoul's chief nuclear negotiator said Monday.

Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, made the remark as he arrived in the U.S. capital to hold talks with his American counterpart, Stephen Biegun.

Biegun and North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong-gil, resumed working-level negotiations on denuclearizing the regime in Stockholm, Sweden, on Saturday, but the talks ended in conflicting assessments.

The North claimed the talks broke down due to the failure of the U.S. to bring a new proposal, while Washington described the discussions as "good" and said it brought "creative ideas" to the table.

"I plan to meet with Special Representative Biegun and discuss specific ways to maintain the dialogue momentum as well as make tangible progress in that process," Lee told reporters upon arriving at Washington's Dulles International Airport.

Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, speaks to reporters at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Yonhap)

The envoy cast the weekend's working-level negotiations in a positive light, saying that despite the lack of actual results the two sides had the opportunity to fully understand each other's positions.

"The two sides also left open the possibility of continuing the discussions," he said, referring to the U.S. State Department's statement that it had accepted Sweden's invitation to return to Stockholm in two weeks to meet again with the North.

Lee said he plans to stay in Washington until Thursday and hold several meetings with Biegun.

"I understand there are various difficulties at the moment," he said. "The ensuing process may not be easy, but what's most important at this time is coordination between South Korea and the U.S."

The weekend's meeting marked the first round of working-level negotiations since February's second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without any agreement.

The U.S. has demanded the North take sweeping denuclearization steps first, but Pyongyang has insisted on a step-by-step method under which it would receive sanctions relief and security guarantees for each denuclearization measure. (Yonhap)

Lee Kyung-Sik  edt@koreapost.com

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