US officials travel to North Korea for summit-planning talks

28 May 2018

US officials travel to North Korea for summit-planning talks

A delegation of US officials have been sent to North Korea for talks to negotiate the continuation of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

It comes despite uncertainty that arose last week when Mr Trump pulled out of the meeting due to be held on June 12.

“A US delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, referring to a village in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

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

Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with North Korea, has been called in from his current post in the Philippines to lead the talks.

The talks are expected to focus on what the summit itself would discuss — the issue of North Korea’s nuclear program and the possibility of denuclearisation.

Mr Trump took to Twitter on Sunday (local time), expressing an optimistic tone about the summit, which was put into severe doubt last week.

Earlier on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he and Kim Jung-un held a surprise meeting on Saturday where they both agreed that the North Korea-US summit must be held.

The weekend meetings are the latest dramatic turn of events, during a tumultuous lead up to the summit, however, the talks between the two Korean leaders show a strong sign that the meeting may still be kept on track.

The meetings with the US officials are expected to continue into Monday and Tuesday at Tongilgak, the North Korean building in Panmunjon.

Mr Kim reaffirmed his commitment to “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and to a planned meeting with Mr Trump, Mr 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,” Mr Moon said.