Key US Diplomat on North Korea Matters to Retire
(VOA): Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department's special representative for North Korean policy, is leaving his post later this week.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement Monday saying Yun is retiring on Friday “for personal reasons,” and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has “reluctantly accepted” the veteran diplomat's decision.
Yun, who also holds the title of deputy assistant secretary of state for Korea and Japan, confirmed his retirement with several news outlets Monday.The 32-year State Department veteran was named special representative for North Korea policy in October 2016 under then-President Barack Obama.
His retirement comes amid signs that Pyongyang may finally be willing to hold direct talks with Washington over the North's development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.Yun had strongly advocated direct engagement with the isolated regime, and had been holding regular talks with North Korean diplomats assigned to the United Nations.
Yun travelled to North Korea last June to secure the release of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. college student who was detained for 17 months for stealing a propaganda poster, before he was sent home in a coma with extensive brain damage and died just days after his return.
Yun's unexpected departure creates another crucial vacancy in the U.S. diplomatic corps under President Donald Trump's administration after 13 months in office.President Trump has yet to formally announce an ambassador to South Korea, and several key posts remain unfilled due to an exodus of numerous career diplomats and staffers.
Nauert said the administration's efforts to isolate North Korea under its campaign of “maximum pressure” will continue until Pyongyang agrees to begin “credible talks towards a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”
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