UPDATE : 2017.11.21 TUE 16:06
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Little progress in U.S.-N. Korea talks: senior diplomat

The United States is currently having an assortment of direct contact with North Korea, but little progress has been made toward any serious dialogue, a senior South Korean diplomat said Friday.

"Exchanges and contact are regularly ongoing between the U.S. and North Korea through a New York channel and there's also a variety of contact through the so-called 1.5 track or academic exchange, however there's no detailed progress to note," Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam told the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee. The New York channel refers to exchanges between the two countries' diplomatic missions to the United Nations in New York.

First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam

He was responding to a lawmaker's query on President Donald Trump's referral to talks with North Korea during his visit to South Korea earlier in the week.

In his press conference on Tuesday, Trump said, "I do see certain movement, yes. But let's see what happens," after being asked about "direct talks" with North Korea.

"I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that's good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world," Trump also said, offering talks with North Korea.

"It could be assessed that U.S efforts and approach toward North Korea are producing a degree of results," Lim said, adding that North Korea has not conducted any military provocations for nearly two months since Sept. 15, when North Korea last launched a ballistic missile.

"I assume Trump may have hinted at some kind of progress, although it was not specific, based on this assessment," the vice minister said.

Lim also said South Korea and the U.S. need additional consultation over the U.S. vision of the "Indo-Pacific" as its region of interest.

In his news conference alongside Moon on Tuesday, Trump billed the Korea-U.S. alliance a "linchpin for security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," compare to the U.S.' previous referral to area as the "Asia-Pacific."

"There was discussion on the concept of the Indo-Pacific during Trump's visit, but we still have not received specifics of the concept, so we need additional consultation and review," Lim said.

Asked whether the concept means to contain China, the vice minister said the government has not made any judgment yet.

Lim also said South Korea did not mean to offend Japan when it served shrimp from Dokdo Island at the state dinner for Trump and his delegation.

Serving the jumbo shrimp from the seas off the South Korean islets, which Japan lays territorial claims to, caused Japan to lodge a protest with the South Korean government.

In the latest session, the foreign affairs committee also approved the foreign ministry's budget of 2.32 trillion won ($2.1 billion) for 2018.

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koreapost.com

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