US envoy for North Korea Sung Kim will visit Seoul today for multiple meetings with South Korea’s Special Representative for Peninsula Peace and Security Noh Kyu-duk and Japan’s Foreign Ministry Director-General Takehiro Funakoshi.
Sung Kim’s appointment reaffirms the US’s position of working closely with its allies—a position Kim adopted during his tenure with President Obama—in the Pacific to re-open diplomatic channels with North Korea. Expect the five-day visit, composed of bilateral and trilateral meetings, to consolidate ideas presented during President Biden and President Moon’s recent May summit—namely efforts to ensure denuclearization and explore alleviation of sanctions on North Korea to help with ongoing food shortages and a flailing economy.
In the short-term, this meeting offers a chance for diplomatic alignment between the three powers before any major decisions are made on how to best engage with Pyongyang. Expect the visits to clarify the trilateral alliance’s agenda on North Korean nuclearization and provide insights for further South Korean cooperation in security-led organizations like the Quad. Japan and South Korea are likely to signal their intentions of increasing security alliances in the region, predominantly to counter the DPRK, but also as a buffer to neighboring China.
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