US, North Korean Officials Discuss Preparations for Potential Summit

U.S. officials are meeting with North Korean officials in Panmunjom to discuss a potential summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the U.S. State Department confirmed on Sunday.

“A U.S. delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom. We continue to prepare for a meeting between the President and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Trump announced on Thursday that he was withdrawing from the scheduled June 12 meeting in Singapore, only to say on Friday that the summit might be back on. On Saturday, he said conversations about a potential summit were “going along very well.”

“I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done.  We got that done and we can be successful in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, that would be a great thing for North Korea, it would be a great thing for South Korea, it would be great for Japan, it would be great for the world, it would be great for the United States, it would be great for China.  A lot of people are working on it. It’s moving along very nicely,” Trump said.

In North Korea, state media reported Saturday that it’s North Korean leader Kim’s “fixed will” that a summit with Trump in Singapore should go ahead.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Saturday with North Korean leader Kim near the two Koreas’ heavily militarized border. 

The leaders exchanged views on how to prepare for the North’s possible summit with Trump, the South Korean presidential office said.

After the meeting, South Korea’s President Moon was upbeat.

“It was like an ordinary encounter between friends,” he said of his Saturday meeting with Kim Jong Un.

​Moon said the North Korean leader remains committed to denuclearization.

“What’s uncertain for Kim is not his intention to denuclearize, but the U.S. stance in hostile relations with North Korea and whether the U.S. can really secure and guarantee his regime,” Moon said.

The two leaders reiterated hopes for a successful North Korea-US summit after Trump abruptly canceled a meeting between the two countries planned for June 12 in Singapore.  Trump cited hostile comments from top North Korean officials as his reason for scrapping the meeting, as well as concern about the country’s commitment to giving up its nuclear weapons.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Saturday in a statement, “The White House pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place.”  Politico magazine reported earlier that an advance team of 30 White House and State Department officials were preparing to depart later this weekend.

Kim thanked Moon “for much effort made by him” towards the summit, and said he hoped to improve relations with Washington and “establish mechanism for permanent and durable peace.”

Leaders of North and South Korea also agreed to “meet frequently,” the North’s KCNA agency added.

Steve Herman at the White House contributed to this report.

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