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Trump and aides: We're meeting to re-schedule Kim Jong Un summit

01 June 2018

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

Both Pyongyang and Washington are pressing ahead on plans for a summit after Trump pulled out of the proposed 12 June meeting on Thursday, only to reconsider the decision the next day. He held a welcome-home ceremony in the middle of the night at Joint Base Andrews for the three Americans in yet another sign of improving relations between the US and North Korea that past presidents were unable to achieve.

Trump will meet its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington on June 7, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. "These calls have been ongoing over the last couple of weeks".

On his way to Nashville, President Trump ignored questions about the quickly changing status of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Associated Press journalists saw the plane taxi down the tarmac before the North's delegation disembarked at JFK International Airport. The border can be crossed simply by stepping across a painted line, but moving beyond several footsteps into the North at Panmunjom would be rare for USA officials. So no one knows if and when a summit will take place.

Since that short-lived crisis, diplomats in both countries have conducted an intense flurry of negotiations, culminating on Thursday when Pompeo sat down in NY with Kim's number two, Kim Yong Chol.

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"Solid response to my letter, thank you!" tweeted Trump. North Korea's former spy chief, Kim Yong Chol is now a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party.

This week's talks are aimed at determining whether North Korea is prepared to make sufficient commitments toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons, a USA official said, despite Pyongyang's insistence it will not unilaterally denuclearize.

Was Trump warning the Chinese leader through feigned admiration, some analysts wondered, that he was pushing Mr. Kim too far into a position that risked scuttling the advancing diplomacy between the United States and North Korea?

Meanwhile, a team of American diplomats are holding preparatory discussions with North Korean officials at the DMZ.

"It's a good thing to have him onboard", said a former senior South Korean official who worked with Sung Kim in past.

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The Washington Post first reported that the team, which also included Allison Hooker, the Korea expert on the White House National Security Council, met with Choe Son-hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister. Trump hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week.

American and North Korean officials are also meeting in the Demilitarized Zone with South Korea to discuss a meeting agenda.

There had been speculation that Kim, who greeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang this month, would be traveling to the United States amid frenzied talks aimed at salvaging the summit, scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12.

White House officials characterized the letter as a negotiating tactic, created to bring the North back to the table after a provocative statement and a decision to skip planning talks and ignore preparatory phone calls.

Since then, Trump has said North Korea has been responsive to the point where the meeting could be re-scheduled.

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North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs 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. Any visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted. Before he canceled the summit, Trump did not rule out an incremental approach that would provide incentives along the way to the North.

Trump and aides: We're meeting to re-schedule Kim Jong Un summit