Biden, South Korea’s moon, expresses its willingness to engage the North diplomatically

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© Reuters. South Korean President Moon Jae-in walks to the Rayburn Room with US Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi after meeting at their office in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, on May 20, 2021. REUTERS / Ken Cedeno

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By Jarrett Renshaw and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday expressed their desire to engage North Korea diplomatically to ease tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

“We are both deeply concerned about the situation,” Biden said at the beginning of a joint press conference with Moon, the second foreign leader to visit the White House since Biden took office.

Biden said the two countries will have a “common approach” to North Korea and that he and Moon share a willingness to work diplomatically with the North “to take pragmatic steps to ease tension”.

Biden said a State Department official, Sung Kim, will serve as the US special envoy to North Korea. Moon said the envoy would help find out if North Korea is ready to engage diplomatically and he hoped for a positive response from Pyongyang.

North Korea has so far rejected US requests for diplomacy since Biden replaced then-President Donald Trump, who held three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Moon welcomed Biden’s realistic, pragmatic approach to North Korea and named denuclearization a top priority.

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