Stephen Biegun, the new U.S. special representative for North Korea, on Tuesday met with President Moon Jae-in and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Seoul.
Moon expressed hopes to Biegun that Washington will make progress in denuclearization talks with North Korea amid an upbeat atmosphere boosted by last week's trip to Pyongyang by five South Korean officials.
Biegun pledged to do his best to work for denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. "We also have a tremendous opportunity," he told Seoul's chief nuclear negotiator Lee Do-hoon. "We need to do everything we can to make the most of this moment of opportunity."
In separate meetings with Kang and Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, Biegun stressed inter-Korean relations should develop in line with the denuclearization of North Korea.
Biegun plans to travel to Seoul again on his way back home later this weekend to share the outcomes of his trip to China and Japan.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris gave a speech at a forum in Seoul that afternoon, where he said North Korea has an opportunity to break away from 60 years of poverty and isolation. But he added prosperity will be possible only when leader Kim Jong-un keeps his promise to denuclearize.
He said international sanctions will remain in place until Pyongyang takes concrete and verifiable steps toward denuclearization. He added Washington will keep up pressure on the North Korean regime over its serious violation of human rights including religious freedom.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (left) shakes hands with Stephen Biegun, the new U.S. special representative for North Korea, in Seoul on Tuesday.