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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Kim Jong-un. Photo: Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

The Trump administration is debating onboarding a North Korean envoy to help handle potential negotiations with Pyongyang alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one administration official told CNN. Seoul has announced that North Korea expressed interest in speaking with the U.S. about denuclearization in a potential breakthrough.

Why it matters: The State Department’s Special Representative for North Korea, Ambassador Joseph Yun, is leaving his post. The State Department lacks a permanent ambassador to Seoul, and the assistant secretary for East Asia is in place in an acting capacity and hasn’t yet been confirmed. But with such a delicate conversation, a point person may help negotiations along, per CNN.

  • The U.S. has had special envoys roles in the past for talks with North Korea and to deal with human rights issues in the country. The new special envoy would likely serve beneath any replacement for Yun.
  • What they're saying: State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert has said it's "simply wrong" to think no one other than Yun is "capable of handling North Korea."

But, but, but: Talks might not even take place. The U.S. has only heard from South Korea on the alleged North Korean proposal, a senior administration official told Axios. And the U.S. plans to continue its joint military drills with South Korea, which Pyongyang views as a rehearsal for invasion.

Go deeper: How North Korean diplomacy fails ... How we got here

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

U.S. releases report finding Saudi prince approved Khashoggi operation

Photo: Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released an unclassified report assessing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation to "capture or kill" Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Driving the news: The White House also announced sanctions on entities implicated in the murder, though not on MBS directly. Officials also announced a new "Khashoggi ban" under which individuals accused of harassing journalists or dissidents outside their borders can be barred from entering the U.S.

About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says

Joe Biden speaks during an event commemorating the 50 million COVID-19 vaccine shots. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Nearly 1 in 5 adults and nearly half of Americans 65 and older have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt said on Friday.

The big picture: The Biden administration has previously said it has secured enough doses to vaccinate most of the American population by the end of July.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Employers mull COVID vaccine requirements — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategyPfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

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