Joseph Yun, US State Department's top North Korea diplomat, to retire this week


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 Joseph Yun, US State Department's top North Korea diplomat, to retire this week

Joseph Yun right, US special representative for North Korea policy, answers questions from reporters following a meeting with Japanese and South Korean chief nuclear negotiators at the Iikura Guesthouse in Tokyo on April 25, 2017.

The US State Department's top diplomat in charge of North Korea policy is retiring at the end of the week.

Joseph Yun, who is in his early 60s, told CNN: "It was completely my decision to retire at this time." He said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accepted his resignation "with regret."

Yun is leaving the State Department at a critical time, with expressions of interest in talks from both the United States and North Korea.

A North Korean official told South Korea that the doors were open for dialogue and the US said it was willing to hold talks but would maintain a pressure campaign on Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Relations between North Korea and the United States deteriorated in 2017 as Pyongyang tested long-range missiles it said could reach the mainland US and Washington spearheaded punitive sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime.

Since his appointment as the US special representative for North Korea policy by the Obama administration in October 2016, Yun has been a key player in implementing US strategy and dealing with bilateral relations.

He was instrumental in securing the release of Otto Warmbier, an American college student detained in North Korea for more than a year. Yun and a medical team went to North Korea to pick him up last June.

Warmbier returned to the United States with significant brain damage and died just days later.

By: CNN

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