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Report: South Korea's unification minister to meet with Pompeo

By Elizabeth Shim
Report: South Korea's unification minister to meet with Pompeo
South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (R) is to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a South Korean press report. Photo courtesy of Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Nov. 13 (UPI) -- South Korea's unification minister left Seoul late Tuesday for Washington, where he is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korean press reported.

Cho Myoung-gyon, who has had extensive contact with top North Korean officials in 2018, is meeting with key politicians in the Trump administration and visiting think tanks, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.

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The anticipated meeting between Cho and Pompeo is an unusual move, analysts told the South Korean newspaper. Pompeo's counterpart in Seoul is Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa.

Jeong Se-hyun, a former unification minister, said it is "unprecedented" for Seoul's unification ministry to deal directly with the U.S. State Department.

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"In this situation where the United States is putting the brakes on U.S.-North Korea relations, there is a need for the unification ministry to directly persuade the U.S. State Department," Jeong said.

Other analysts said the task is not easy, according to the report.

Cho is traveling to the United States a day after the Center for Strategic and International Studies published a report that stated a North Korean missile base is active as of November.

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The report, and claims of North Korean "deception" in a New York Times article, drew a critical response from Seoul.

On Tuesday President Donald Trump dismissed the report in a tweet.

"The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate. We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new -- and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!" Trump tweeted.

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Center for Strategic and International Studies analysts said the Sakkanmol base is a "forward Hwasong-5/-6 missile-operating base subordinate to the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army."

Cho is also expected to meet with analysts at CSIS and speak at the 2018 Korea Global Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

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