US appoints new special envoy for DPRK

Xinhua
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that he has appointed Stephen Biegun as the new special envoy for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Xinhua
AFP

New US special representative to DPRK Steve Biegun speaks after being named by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 23, 2018.

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that he has appointed Stephen Biegun as the new special envoy for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

He also said that he and Biegun will travel to Pyongyang next week for further talks with the DPRK side.

In the remarks, Pompeo said that "it's a very timely moment for Steve to join the team and come on board. He and I will be traveling to North Korea next week to make further diplomatic progress towards our objective."

"As the special representative, Steve will lead negotiations and spearhead diplomatic efforts with our allies and partners," Pompeo said, noting that "using diplomacy to resolve the North Korean security threat once and for all remains one of President Trump's greatest priorities, and Steve is eminently qualified for the task and clear-eyed in the challenge before us."

For his part, Biegun said he fully understands the importance of this job.

"The issues are tough, and they will be tough to resolve," he said. "But the President has created an opening, and it's one that we must take by seizing every possible opportunity to realize the vision for a peaceful future for the people of North Korea. This begins with the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed by Chairman Kim Jong Un at the summit with President Trump in Singapore."

Biegun is to continue the mission of Joseph Yun, who resigned from his post earlier this year for personal reasons.

US media outlets reported that the departure of Yun, who has been supportive of solving the Korean Peninsula issues through dialogue, was due to his long disappointment over the Trump administration's provocations against the DPRK, and diplomats' lacking of speaking in the government's decision-making process.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said earlier on August 19 that Pompeo would leave for a trip to the DPRK for the fourth visit since he assumed the current office.

He added that the US side expects Pompeo to meet with the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un.

According to the website of Ford Motor Company, Biegun has been its vice president of International Governmental Affairs, overseeing "all aspects of Ford's international governmental relations, including trade strategy and political risk assessment."

Before joining Ford, Biegun worked in the White House from 2001 to 2003 as executive secretary of the National Security Council. He served as a senior staff member to former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. He also served for 14 years as a foreign policy adviser to members of both the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

Born in 1963, Biegun graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied Political Science and Russian Language. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group.

Biegun's appointment was the latest in Pompeo's efforts to fill special envoy posts. Last week, he appointed Brian Hook, head of the State Department's policy planning, to lead the newly established the Iran Action Group.

He also named Jim Jeffrey, US former ambassador to Iraq, to be the Secretary's Representative for Syria Engagement, a new position Pompeo created to work on the Geneva Process.

Pompeo is expected soon to appoint another former ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, to handle issues related to Afghanistan, US media reported.

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