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03 March 2018, 12:20 | Colleen Roy
The Obama administration appointed Yun as the US special representative for North Korean policy in October 2016, and he played an important role in the release of the imprisoned college student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after his return home.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in response that talks are possible only under the right conditions.
"Ambassador Joe Yun, a respected member of the Senior Foreign Service, has chose to retire for personal reasons", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. But diplomatic sources said the move may reflect frustration over the Trump White House's perceived undercutting of the diplomatic efforts of the department.
"Ambassador Joe Yun, a respected member of the Senior Foreign Service, has chose to retire for personal reasons, and the Secretary has reluctantly accepted his decision and wished him well", Nauert said in a tweet.
A rapprochement between the two Koreas, inspired by South Korea's recent hosting of the Winter Olympics, offers a glimmer of hope for diplomacy.
Yun, a 32-year foreign service veteran, travelled to North Korea last June to help secure the release of comatose American student Otto Warmbier, whose detention and subsequent death further soured relations between Washington and Pyongyang. "We must use the full arsenal of our tools to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions and missile program in order to protect the national security of the United States".
"After all, the core of the Korean Peninsula issue is about security, and the US and [North Korea] hold the key to solving the issue", Lu said. "A huge loss for the US government at a critical moment". His departure will leave the Trump administration without an envoy for engaging North Korea or an ambassador in South Korea.
Also on Monday, it was reported that South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged the USA and North Korea both to give ground in order to come to the negotiating table.
"It was completely my decision to retire at this time", Yun said. Trump left the door open, but indicated he wouldn't back down from the condition that Pyongyang is willing to talk denuclearization. We want to talk also, only under the right conditions.
The North hasn't tested a nuclear device or ballistic missile for months. "Phase two may be a very rough thing - may be very, very unfortunate for the world", he said.
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