U.S. Officials Meet With North Koreans to Discuss Summit

Charlene Craig
May 29, 2018

"I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day", the President said on Twitter.

Trump confirmed Sunday that a delegation of US officials visited North Korea to "make arrangements" for the summit, after the State Department said that a team had been sent to the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, separating the North from the South.

The reports indicate that planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for 12 June, is moving ahead after Mr Trump called it off last week.

The State Department says a team of US officials also met with North Korean officials in Panmunjom on Sunday.

On the Korean Peninsula, a surprise meeting between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea also produced some progress toward a meeting.

At the same time, a team of US government officials, including the White House deputy chief of staff for operations Joe Hagin, left US Yokota Air Base in Japan for Singapore on Monday, NHK said.

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The U.S. delegation includes Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, a former envoy to South Korea and U.S. nuclear negotiator, and officials from the White House and the departments of state and defense, a diplomatic source in Seoul said.

On Sunday, Mr Trump said a team from the U.S. had arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the summit, saying it would help the North achieve its "brilliant potential".

Howard X, who speaks English flawlessly, said the objective of his trip was to wish for a successful summit between the real Kim and Trump. Trump, who has since teased that the summit might still happen, tweeted about the diplomatic efforts in North Korea late Sunday afternoon, expressing his optimism that the USA team's arrangements will pan out.

The delegations are led by Ambassador Sung Kim, a former chief United States nuclear envoy, and North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui.

He and his team met Monday with a North Korean team led by Choe Son-hui, a vice foreign minister who has specialized in dealing with the United States, in the Tongilgak building on the northern side of Panmunjom, about the planned summit between their leaders.

The two officials know each other well - both were part of their respective delegations that negotiated the 2005 denuclearization agreement through the six-party framework.

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Some say Trump's sudden willingness to cancel the summit rattled Pyongyang, which has since dialed down its rhetoric and expressed a willingness to talk "at any time".

The United States and South Korea blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North's nuclear and missile programs in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

More significantly, Mr Moon secured the restart of ministerial-level inter-Korean talks on June 1, followed by a dialogue between military leaders and a Red Cross meeting to reunite families separated by the war.

The US, along with the United Nations, has imposed numerous large-scale sanctions on North Korea, cutting off much of its foreign income. The North Korean leader could now "continue to play nice in public but stall out the process behind closed doors", said Mount, of Federation of American Scientists.

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 29 November.

"Is it possible the "I'm canceling the summit" letter brought North Korea back to the table?"

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