SEOUL, March 26 (UPI) — U.S. Special Representative on North Korea Stephen Biegun is negotiating North Korea denuclearization in China, according to a Japanese press report.
TV Asahi reported Tuesday Biegun is meeting with Chinese officials at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Biegun is keeping a low profile and did not take questions from reporters waiting at his hotel, according to the report.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, the special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs, met with Biegun for negotiations.
Biegun arrived in China a day earlier, on Monday. The U.S. diplomat flew to Beijing from Britain, and was in talks with U.S. embassy officials in the Chinese capital, according to TV Asahi.
Biegun’s visit to Beijing comes after summit talks broke down between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
North Korea may have been expecting sanctions relief in return for dismantling facilities at Yongbyon, but the United States sought inspections of other undisclosed locations.
Biegun is likely pursuing the resumption of negotiations with the North Koreans, while at the same time calling on China to continue sanctions enforcement.
The U.S. representative’s visit comes at a time when South Korea is preparing to confirm a new unification minister.
Kim Yeon-chul, the nominee, told South Korean lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday North Korea should not pursue economic development if it continues to build nuclear weapons, Yonhap reported.
Kim said economic incentives should be used to promote denuclearization in North Korea policy, according to the report.
Kim, the head of a Seoul-run think tank, said North Korea currently has 6 million smartphones in circulation, and 400 marketplaces. In Pyongyang, 2,500 to 6,000 taxis are on the road every day, Kim said.
Kim declined to comment on Kim Jong Un, when asked by an opposition party lawmaker.
The North Korean leader recently approved a return to normal operations at the inter-Korea liaison office in Kaesong.