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North Korea Names Nuclear Negotiator

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North Korea Names Nuclear Negotiator

SEOUL—North Korea named a veteran diplomat with extensive U.S. experience as its chief negotiator for working-level talks with Washington, while praising President

Trump

for dismissing national security adviser

John Bolton.

Kim Myong Gil,

recently the North’s ambassador to Vietnam, took part in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. in 2000. Close Pyongyang watchers had suspected he would be tapped for the coming talks after he was photographed with leader

Kim Jong Un

at June 30’s impromptu meeting with Mr. Trump at Korea’s demilitarized zone.

In a Friday state-media report, Kim Myong Gil referred to himself as the chief delegate in nuclear talks and called the removal of “nasty troublemaker” Mr. Bolton wise. He cited Mr. Trump’s criticism Wednesday of Mr. Bolton’s maximalist strategy, seeking disarmament before sanctions relief, and the president’s suggestion that a new method could end months of negotiating gridlock.

“The political decision to turn to a new alternative, finding it utterly impossible to make it with old method is the manifestation of the political perception and disposition peculiar to President Trump,” Mr. Kim said.

Mr. Kim’s formal designation as a chief negotiator is a sign that Pyongyang remains committed to restarting denuclearization talks, as agreed to by Messrs. Trump and Kim at their June 30 meeting. Within weeks of that meeting, though, the North took offense at Trump administration comments and returned to provocations like firing short-range missiles and issuing angry state-media missives.

Pyongyang last week vowed to reconvene talks soon. The two sides haven’t held formal discussions since February’s Vietnam summit abruptly ended without a deal.

Mr. Kim, 60 years old, has served as a North Korean diplomat for more than three decades, according to South Korea’s unification ministry. He was at the table with the U.S. in 2000, participating in six-party talks that ultimately broke down. He has also served as the representative for the North’s mission to the U.N.

For now, he is the counterpart for

Stephen Biegun,

the U.S. special envoy for North Korea. He replaces

Kim Hyok Chol,

who headed Pyongyang’s working-level talks in the buildup to February’s Hanoi summit but who hasn’t been seen in public since.

Write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com

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