Friday, 19 October, 2018

Trump, Japan's Abe to Meet Ahead of Possible US-North Korea Summit

27 2018 by South Korea Presidential Blue House via Yonhap News Agency South Korean President Moon Jae-in right is guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left at the northern side of Panmunjom in North K Trump, Japan's Abe to Meet Ahead of Possible US-North Korea Summit
Lisa Bryan | 29 May, 2018, 11:28

Three thousand miles away in Singapore, a team of U.S. logistics officials arrived late Monday and was expecting the arrival of a corresponding team from Pyongyang.

Officials are discussing the substance of any summit agreement, focusing on the thorny issue of denuclearization, with a North Korean team led by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. A Kim Jong-un impersonator looks at a woman taking a selfie with him as they walk along the Jubilee Bridge in Singapore on May 27, 2018.

For the moment, Mr Moon has maintained an appearance as a neutral middleman who can bridge the gap between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, two reactive leaders who create a high risk of miscalculation.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that USA officials had "arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself".

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programmes as a deterrent against perceived aggression by the United States, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The White House was preparing to announced a ramped-up sanctions regime as soon as Tuesday, but decided on Monday to indefinitely delay the measures while talks are ongoing, according to a USA official the newspaper didn't name.

"Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself", he tweeted. The goal of the preliminary meetings includes drafting a communiqué for both leaders to approve at their historic meeting, the United States official said.

"In Trump's thinking, his "maximum pressure" would've resulted in Kim kneeling and returning to dialogue in surrender anyway if it reached the boiling point", he added.


He would be the most high profile North Korean official to visit the United States since 2000.

The leaders of the two Koreas held a surprise meeting in a bid to save a summit with the US. "Based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting", Trump wrote.

Trump said "I'd rather not say" whether he has spoken with North Korea's leader.

Still, with only a few weeks left until the scheduled summit, such talks are unlikely to reconcile the differing positions over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal, he said. Analysts said Mr Moon - who seems to have built trust with Mr Kim through two summits in a month - can help to bridge the gap between the U.S. and North Korea and mediate if necessary. "It's also an implicit acknowledgment that running this negotiation out of the Oval Office has not worked, and that lower-level officials are needed to work out the details before a summit can take place". A similar, painstaking process yielded the Iran nuclear deal which Trump derided and withdrew from last month. "But I don't think we're going to have a parade of missiles or weapons going through some destruction site that we can put on camera". "But we need results and they need to be very visible before the United States creates any benefits", he said. But experts are hardly optimistic about a breakthrough, even if the meeting goes ahead.

The State Department said a separate team of White House officials has also headed to Singapore to sort out logistics for the historic meeting. Teams had already been surveying hotel ballrooms and other possible locations for the meeting when Trump declared it canceled last week.

Observers say that after the working-level talks, Kim Yong-chol, a vice central committee chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could meet for final consultations, possibly in Washington.

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