North Korean leader shuffles nuclear talks team

2019-02-20 06:50:33 GMT2019-02-20 14:50:33(Beijing Time) 菲律宾申博在线代理开户登入

Veteran North Korean diplomats are being sidelined from nuclear talks ahead of a second summit with the United States as recent defections and allegations of spying undermine the trust of leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean officials and experts say.

Kim has purged and replaced many top diplomats and officials who served his father and grandfather with new, younger advisors as he gears up to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam next week.

Among the most significant changes, Kim has appointed little-known Kim Hyok Chol to spearhead working-level talks with U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun.

A former ambassador to Spain who was expelled in 2017 after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, Kim Hyok Chol has been working at the State Affairs Commission, a top governing body chaired by the young leader, a South Korean official said.

He replaced Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who led negotiations in the run up to the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in June.

“It’s a big boys’ game and many diplomats are being neglected, as they face fierce inter-agency rivalry and questions about their ideological faithfulness given their experience in richer, capitalist nations,” the South Korean official said, asking to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Kim Hyok Chol is a career diplomat too, but he apparently has passed a loyalty test to become the point man in the negotiations.”

Agencies

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