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Korean, U.S., Japanese envoys to meet in Tokyo to discuss North

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Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Gunn at Gimpo Airport on Tuesday as he leaves for Tokyo. [YONHAP]
Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Gunn at Gimpo Airport on Tuesday as he leaves for Tokyo. [YONHAP]

Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Gunn left for Tokyo on Tuesday to meet with the American and Japanese special envoys on North Korea, marking their first meeting in two months.  
 
Kim was scheduled to meet with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Takehiro Funakoshi in Tokyo on Wednesday, to discuss denuclearization of North Korea and their responses in the case of a North Korean military provocation, including a nuclear test.  
The meeting follows one between the top national security advisers of Korea, Japan and the United States last Friday, during which they also discussed possible responses to North Korea should it decide to conduct its seventh nuclear test.

Officials in Seoul and Washington have said that Pyongyang appears to have completed “all preparations” for a nuclear test and that it may only be gauging timing.

Pyongyang conducted its most recent nuclear test in September 2017.

There has also been growing speculation among Korea watchers that the regime may try to time its military provocation with the 75th anniversary of the foundation of its ruling party, which falls on Oct. 10.  

On whether the Defense Ministry detected any extraordinary movements in light of another North Korean national holiday set to fall on Friday, the Day of the Foundation of the Republic of North Korea, the ministry’s spokesperson told the press on Tuesday it is closely monitoring movements in Pyongyang including North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities and activities, in light of its “political schedules.”

The special envoys in their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday were also expected to discuss the Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s North Korea policy dubbed the “audacious initiative,” which is a plan to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons with offers of aid for the country’s economy.

“Special Representative [Sung] Kim will stress the U.S. commitment to dialogue, even while we will take all necessary action to address the threat Pyongyang poses to the United States and our allies,” said the State Department in a statement on Friday.

The trio last met on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on July 8.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]