A possible trip to Europe by a seasoned North Korean diplomat is drawing further attention to Pyongyang's recent diplomatic overture.
Kang Sok-ju, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, will reportedly visit Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy starting late this week.
Given his status in North Korea, Kang's trip may serve a specific purpose.
"Kang Sok-ju is the pointman when it comes to North Korea's nuclear weapons program for the past 25 years. Kang Sok-ju's presence in Europe can be also understood as North Korea expanding its diplomatic effort to make progress with regard to its nuclear stance and missile program with European countries and potentially with the United States."
( 8 )
Unconfirmed reports say senior U.S. officials visited North Korea last month on a military aircraft.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong will be in New York City for the UN General Assembly that begins on September 24th.
Speculation is ripe Pyongyang and Washington may revive their dormant communication channels and Europe has been the site of secret meetings between the two countries in the past.
( , )
Kang may also lead high-level talks with Japan during his stay in Switzerland.
His visit coincides with a seminar on the Japanese abduction issue slated for September 10th in Geneva, which senior Japanese officials are expected to attend.
As Pyongyang takes strides to reengage with Washington and Tokyo, some say Seoul could ultimately be the one left out of the diplomatic circle.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.