US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will visit South Korea next week amid growing concerns that North Korea may soon conduct a nuclear test.
According to the State Department, Sherman’s visit to Seoul will be part of a four-nation trip that will also take her to the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos from June 5-14, reports Yonhap News Agency.
“In Seoul, Deputy Secretary Sherman will meet with ROK leaders, including Foreign Minister Park Jin, Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, and First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong,” the Department said in a statement late Friday, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
“The Deputy Secretary will also discuss the importance of women’s leadership and economic empowerment with leading women startup entrepreneurs, as well as meet with LGBTQI+ civil society leaders to highlight the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and mark Pride Month,” it added.
Sherman will also hold a trilateral meeting with her South Korean counterpart, Cho, and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori in Seoul.
The three will “discuss how the US, the ROK and Japan can continue to work together for the benefit of the region and the world to address the critical challenges of the 21st century”, the Department said.
The trip follows 17 rounds of North Korean missile tests this year, each of which has been strongly condemned by the US as serious violations of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and a threat to peace and stability in the region.
Intelligence officials in Seoul and Washington have also noted Pyongyang may soon conduct a nuclear test, saying the country appears to have completed “all preparations” for a test, its first since September 2017.
North Korea has so far conducted six nuclear tests.
Sherman’s visit to Seoul also follows US President Joe Biden’s trip there last month for a summit with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol, which was held less than two weeks after the latter took office.