Aug. 20 (UPI) — The United States’ special envoy for North Korea said Wednesday he will not be serving as the top U.S. diplomat to Russia, quelling rumors he may be replacing Jon Huntsman Jr., following Huntsman’s resignation.
Stephen Biegun, who was in South Korea to meet with officials, including Unification Minister Kim Hyun-chul, told reporters he has no plans to accept any offers for a Russia posting but will instead focus on making progress on North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported.
Biegun is visiting the South at a time when North Korea is turning down diplomatic engagement in favor of missile tests, which increased in frequency in July and August. Pyongyang has claimed the tests are a response to the simulated military exercises in the South, training that is preparation for an ‘invasion of the North.”
On Wednesday Biegun said he is ready to resume negotiations with his North Korean counterparts, referring to previous statements regarding his full commitment to carry out negotiations per directions from U.S. President Donald Trump.
The U.S. envoy had said after the June 30 Panmunjom meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un the president had tasked him to carry out the peace pledge signed at the 2018 U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore.
During a meeting between Biegun and Kim Hyun-chul, the two sides agreed to “work closely to restart North Korea negotiations,” Seoul Pyongyang News reported Wednesday.
Kim reported negotiations are in a deadlock, and next steps should include “reinforcing trust” with the North Koreans.
Biegun told Kim the Trump administration continues to support inter-Korea diplomatic efforts that would advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.
The Singapore Summit marked the first time Trump met with the North Korean leader — a historic meeting for both countries.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore in 2018 was an “unforgettable” event, while receiving credentials from Eric Teo, the new Singaporean ambassador to Seoul, according to News 1.