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Donald Trump confirms US, North Korean officials meeting at truce village to discuss Kim Jong-un summit
Photo: South China Morning Post
 
Pyongyang and Washington are pressing on with plans for the summit despite diplomatic ups and downs over the prospects for the meet

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday his team had arrived in North Korea to prepare for a proposed summit between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which Trump pulled out of last week before reconsidering.

Earlier , the State Department said an American delegation had met with North Korean officials at Panmunjom, the village in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
 
In a message on Twitter, Trump said: “Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself. I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!”

Both Pyongyang and Washington are pressing ahead on plans for a summit after Trump pulled out of the proposed June 12 meeting on Thursday, only to reconsider the decision the next day.

“A US delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“We continue to prepare for a meeting between the President and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un,” she said in a statement.

In addition to the border talks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a “pre-advance team” left for Singapore on Sunday morning to work on logistics for a possible summit.
 
Earlier on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he and North Korea’s Kim had agreed during a surprise meeting on Saturday that the North Korea-US summit must be held.

The weekend meetings were the latest dramatic turn in a week of diplomatic ups and downs over the prospects for an unprecedented summit between the United States and North Korea, and the strongest sign yet that the leaders of the two Koreas are trying to keep the meeting on track.

A US official said that Sung Kim, the former US ambassador to South Korea, would lead an American delegation to meet North Korean officials at the border. Pentagon official Randall Schriver was part of the US team, the official said.

The Washington Post first reported that the team, which also included Allison Hooker, the Korea expert on the White House National Security Council, met with Choe Son-hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister.
 
The Washington Post said the meetings would continue Monday and Tuesday at Tongilgak, the North’s building in Panmunjom, where the truce suspending the 1950-53 Korean war was signed.

In their Saturday meeting, Kim reaffirmed his commitment to “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and to a planned meeting with Trump, Moon said.
 
“Chairman Kim and I have agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully, and that our quest for the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearisation and a perpetual peace regime should not be halted,” Moon said.

Moon acknowledged Pyongyang and Washington may have differing expectations of what denuclearisation means and he urged both sides to hold working-level talks to resolve their differences.

The United States has demanded the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
 
Pyongyang has rejected unilateral disarmament and has always couched its language in terms of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

In previous failed talks, North Korea said it could consider giving up its arsenal if Washington removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
 
North Korea has tested dozens of missiles of various types in the past two years, including one launch of its largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile, which is theoretically capable of hitting anywhere in the United States, on November 29.

American officials are sceptical that Kim will ever fully abandon his nuclear arsenal. Moon said North Korea is not convinced it can trust security guarantees from the United States.
 
“However, during the US-South Korea summit, President Trump clearly emphasised that we may see not only the end of hostile relations but also economic cooperation if North Korea denuclearises,” Moon said.
 
Moon met Trump in Washington on Tuesday in an effort to keep the US-North Korea summit on track.
 
A senior South Korean official said later the two Koreas were discussing a possible non-aggression pledge and the start of peace treaty talks as a way of addressing Pyongyang’s security concerns before US-North Korean negotiations.
 
A statement from North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said Kim expressed “his fixed will” on the possibility of meeting Trump as previously planned.

Trump scrapped the summit after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out over what it saw as confrontational remarks by US officials demanding unilateral disarmament.
 
North Korea had sharply criticised suggestions by Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, and vice-president Mike Pence that it could share the fate of Libya if it did not swiftly surrender its nuclear arsenal. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed by Nato-backed militants in 2011 after halting his nascent nuclear programme.
 
Trump dismissed the so-called Libya model. Sanders, his spokeswoman, told Fox News on May 15: “This is the President Trump model. He’s going to run this the way he sees fit.”
 
Kim had requested a meeting with Moon to clarify what the “Trump model” meant, Yonhap news agency of South Korea reported, citing an unidentified foreign affairs source.

 


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