Kang Sok Ju, the chief North Korean diplomat in charge of negotiating the Agreed Framework with the United States, has died, according to state media. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock
SEOUL, May 20 (UPI) -- The North Korean diplomat who negotiated a nuclear deal with the United States in 1994 has died of cancer, according to Pyongyang.
Kang Sok Ju, the Workers' Party secretary for international affairs, had died of esophageal cancer, Korean Central Television reported Saturday, local time.
Kang, 76, died after suffering from a cancer-induced acute respiratory failure, the media report stated.
Kang is to be enshrined in Pyongyang, and visitors are to be allowed to pay their respects on Saturday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., according to the North Korean statement.
The death of "Comrade Kang Sok Ju" was described as a "great loss" to the Workers' Party and the people.
"From the early 1990s Comrade Kang Sok Ju stood at the outpost, taking an active part to carry out the great General [Kim Il Sung]'s ingenious diplomatic resourcefulness and exceptional leadership in the anti-U.S. nuclear showdown victory," Pyongyang said.
Kang is believed to have begun work as a first deputy at the North Korean foreign ministry after graduating from Kim Il Sung University.
He was the chief North Korean diplomat in charge of negotiating the Agreed Framework with the United States, signed on Oct. 21, 1994.
The aim of the deal, to replace North Korea's nuclear power plant program with light water reactors, broke down by 2002 when Pyongyang disclosed its uranium enrichment program, Yonhap reported.
The six-party talks that began with the goal of defusing the crisis was launched in 2003, but were discontinued in 2009.