U.S. envoy for N.Korea to retire after Trump rejects unconditional talks

U.S. special representative for North Korea policy

U.S. special representative for North Korea policy

He died shortly after returning to the U.S. Doctors said he had suffered a "severe neurological injury" of unknown cause while in North Korean custody.

"We are sorry to see him retire, but our diplomatic efforts regarding North Korea will continue based on our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) until it agrees to begin credible talks toward a denuclearized Korean peninsula", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. "They've drawn a red line here and it is to never let North Korea build a nuclear tipped missile to hit America".

Yun, the deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan, is the US State Department's main go-between for dealing with North Korea, and also the point man for discussing the issue with allies in Tokyo and Seoul. His departure will leave the Trump administration without an envoy for engaging North Korea or an ambassador in South Korea. The ambassador post in South Korea has been vacant for the past year, adding to questions about the direction of USA policy as Trump has vacillated between talk of war and willingness to speak directly with leader Kim Jong Un.

That possibility left as quickly as the us delegation did from the Seoul airport.

"It's regrettable that Yun is leaving at this critical moment".

North Korea's November ICBM "has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now", Mattis said at the time.

South Korea this week urged Washington and Pyongyang to give ground to allow for talks.

Also Thursday, North Korea slammed the US for tying to stifle it economically through sanctions and said that Trump's recent warning of a "phase two" against Pyongyang would not work. Trump warned of a "phase two" that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the steps did not work, an apparent reference to military options his administration says remain on the table.

Serving under an administration often riven by divisions over how to handle Pyongyang, Yun has sought direct diplomacy with North Korean officials at the United Nations, a senior State Department official told Reuters late a year ago.

"He's such a dreamer", a White House official said at the time, with a note of sarcasm. During his tenure, he helped to secure the release of Otto Warmbier, an American student detained by the North.

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