Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

North Korea summit talks underway following 'solid response' to letter

North Korea summit talks underway following 'solid response' to letter

Sung Kim, the US ambassador to the Philippines, was called from his post in Manila to lead the USA delegation to the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone for pre-summit talks with North Korean diplomats.

Significant differences, however, remain - especially over the US and North Korean definition of "complete denuclearization".

Kim Yong-chol, regarded as the right-hand man of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has played a key role in arranging the North Korea-U.S. summit.

The US, in contrast, has reportedly made a decision to hold off new sanctions against the North indefinitely.

Meetings between American and North Korean officials are under way simultaneously in the truce village of Panmunjom, on the North and South Korean border, and in Singapore.

Before he cancelled the summit, Trump did not rule out an incremental approach that would provide incentives along the way to the North. He also visited South Korea in February to attend the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics at the start of Kim Jong Un's charm offensive.

Kim Yong Chol is so close to the North Korean leader he sat next to him during the inter-Korean summit on April 27. It is unclear to what degree the two sides are willing to compromise.

A team led by Sung Kim, a former American negotiator with North Korea who now serves as ambassador to the Philippines, is holding another round of talks Tuesday on the northern side of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

President Trump confirmed on Tuesday that General Kim Yong Chol is en route to NY via China to discuss arrangements for the historic accord. "The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump's expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore".


The South Korean presidential office couldn't confirm the report.

Kim Chang-son, Kim's de facto chief of staff, flew to Singapore via Beijing on Monday night, the report by public broadcaster NHK said. Trump wrote in a tweet. "They are going to be best friends right after this meeting".

Gen Kim, 72, is a controversial figure in neighbouring South Korea, and previously served as a negotiator in inter-Korean talks.

Yonhap said it is "widely expected" that Kim Yong-chol would travel to the US "to reciprocate recent visits" by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The State Department said a separate team of White House officials has headed to Singapore to sort out logistics.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that she has no information on Kim Yong-chol's visit.

Trump pulled out of the meeting Kim Jong Un last week, but then said a day later that it could get back on track.

His journey to the USA caps a frenetic few days of meetings between North Korean and American officials. Kim is blacklisted by both the US and South Korea. Vice Minister Kim found fault with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton's call to use the Libya model of denuclearization on Pyongyang.

Trump withdrew from the on-again-off-again summit last Thursday, after several turbulent days of diplomatic brinkmanship that culminated in an abrupt letter written by the president to Kim Jong Un citing Pyongyang's "tremendous anger and open hostility".

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