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White House sends an advance team to Seoul

May 15,2017
White House officials handling Korea affairs plan to visit Seoul this week, as Korean President Moon Jae-in is seeking an early summit with his American counterpart, U.S. President Donald Trump, diplomatic sources said Sunday.

The U.S. delegation led by Matt Pottinger, senior director for East Asia at the National Security Council (NSC), is scheduled to arrive here today for a two-day stay. Allison Hooker, director for Korea at the NSC, is also included in the group, according to sources.

They will meet Korean officials at the presidential office and the Foreign Ministry, traveling to Seoul after attending the two-day “One Belt, One Road” forum to be held in Beijing starting Sunday.

It will be the first trip here by U.S. government officials since Moon’s inauguration last Wednesday.

The U.S. delegation’s mission is apparently to lay the ground for summit talks between Moon and Trump, as the leaders agreed to meet each other as early as possible in a phone conversation.

There is a possibility that Moon will fly to Washington next month.

If not, he may hold his first summit talks with Trump on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8.

High on the agenda will be a strategy on North Korea and Moon’s push for a review of the decision by his predecessor to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system in South Korea.

Meanwhile, Moon plans to send Hong Seok-hyun, a former chairman and CEO of the JoongAng Media Network, to the U.S. capital as his special envoy in late May.