UPDATE : 2019.11.12 TUE 09:48
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U.S. envoy for N.K. travels to Moscow to discuss denuclearization efforts

U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Mark Lambert is traveling to Moscow this week to meet with Russian officials and discuss efforts to dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.

Lambert will visit the Russian capital from Wednesday through Saturday and also attend the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference during his stay, according to a department spokesperson.

Lambert's attendance was previously reported, prompting speculation of a possible meeting between the U.S. official and a North Korean diplomat also participating in the event.

This graphic image shows a file photo of U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Mark Lambert. (Yonhap)

Jo Chol-su, director-general of the North American affairs bureau at North Korea's foreign ministry, arrived in Moscow Tuesday ahead of the conference's opening slated for Thursday.

Lambert will "meet with Russian officials to discuss efforts to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," the State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency. "He will also meet with subject-matter experts and attend the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference."

A meeting between Lambert and Jo would come as the two sides have made little progress in their bilateral negotiations on dismantling the North's nuclear program in exchange for U.S. sanctions relief and security guarantees.

The last round of working-level negotiations in Sweden in early October ended without any agreement, and the North has ramped up pressure on the U.S. to come up with an acceptable proposal before the year's end.

The nuclear nonproliferation conference, hosted by Russia's Center for Energy and Security Studies every two to three years, has served as a chance for the United States and North Korea to sound out each other's positions at times of high tension.

In 2017, Choe Son-hui, then director-general for North American affairs and currently the North's first vice foreign minister, attended the conference. (Yonhap)

Paul Kim  edt@koreapost.com

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