(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS more details in first 3 paras, paras 6-7)
By Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) — U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and a top South Korean security official met in Seoul to discuss North Korean issues, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Monday, as Seoul and Washington crank up diplomacy to resume dialogue with Pyongyang.
Haines met with Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae, over lunch earlier in the day to “have extensive discussions about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and ways to enhance the Korea-U.S. alliance,” the official said.
The two have shared their assessments of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, following Pyongyang’s recent series of missile launches, according to the official.
Another possible item on the agenda could include South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent proposal to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, as Seoul ramps up diplomacy to revitalize its drive for lasting peace on the peninsula.
Meanwhile it is not yet known whether a meeting among intelligence chiefs of South Korea, the United States and Japan, took place during the day.
Haines had been widely expected to sit down Monday for talks with Park Jie-won, the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), and Hiroaki Takizawa, Japan’s Cabinet intelligence director, who arrived in the country earlier in the day.
Park may have already held separate meetings with Haines and Takizawa during the day, and the meeting among the three chiefs could take place Tuesday.
Pyongyang has remained unresponsive to Washington’s overtures for dialogue, with denuclearization talks having stalled since the no-deal summit between then U.S. President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un in 2019.
Takizawa’s visit to Seoul is his first since Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office earlier this month, and the discussions could possibly signal Tokyo’s new policy direction on North Korea.
The three could also discuss ways to strengthen trilateral intelligence sharing, as the leaders of the two East Asian countries attempt to patch up rocky relations over historic disputes stemming from Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.
On Friday, Moon and Kishida held their first phone call and agreed to develop their ties “in a future-oriented manner.”
Haines, who arrived in Seoul on Sunday, will meet senior security officials here after U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns met with Moon here last week.