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US envoy for N. Korea to visit Japan, S. Korea next week

This undated photo shows U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun. (Kyodo)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit Japan and South Korea next week for talks on the denuclearization of Pyongyang, the State Department said Friday.

    Biegun will travel to Japan from Monday to Tuesday and Seoul from Tuesday to Thursday "to further strengthen coordination on the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK," it said, referring to the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    The trip comes after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed at the end of June that their countries would resume stalled denuclearization negotiations within weeks, which have yet to take place.

    Trump said on Twitter earlier this month that he received a letter from Kim stating that the North Korean leader is willing to meet again after joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises end next Tuesday.

    North Korea, which sees the joint drills as rehearsals for invasion, has fired a series of short-range missiles in apparent protest, most recently on Friday, but Trump has downplayed the significance of such launches.

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