Korean leaders hold second meeting amid Trump summit uncertainty

Aaron Brown
May 28, 2018

Sanders' announcement that the pre-advance trip is still on also comes as Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting at a border truce village on Saturday.

He declared the summit cancelled on Thursday, blaming North Korea's "tremendous anger and open hostility", but tweeted on Friday that "very productive talks" had taken place with the North.

Trump told reporters Saturday that: "We're doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea", adding that "there are meetings going on as we speak".

Saturday's meeting is only the fourth time serving leaders of the two Koreas, who remain technically at war, have ever met.

Much ahead of Choe Son-Hui's warning, Kim Kye-Gwan, North Korea's first foreign minister threatened to scrap the summit if the USA forces North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.

South Korea, which brokered the talks between Washington and Pyongyang, was caught off guard by Trump's abrupt cancellation of the summit citing hostility in recent North Korean comments.

In his letter to Kim, Trump objected specifically to a statement from senior North Korean diplomat Choe Son Hui. "You know that better than anybody". He characterized the recent back-and-forth as the "usual give and take".

Ahead of the summit, North Korea released three American prisoners and reportedly demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

"They shared the opinion that they would meet frequently in the future to make dialogue brisk and pool wisdom and efforts, expressing their stand to make joint efforts for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", KCNA said.

"It is best to treat this all like a reality TV show", Vipin Narang, a North Korea expert and professor of global relations at MIT, wrote Friday on Twitter.

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Even if it does move forward, there's now a question of what can be accomplished after North Korea made clear it will not accept the US demands for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

The group did not supplant the State Department's traditional mode of communication with the North, which is known as the "New York Channel" and involves U.S. diplomats and their North Korean counterparts posted to the United Nations.

It was unclear if Pompeo, who has traveled twice to Pyongyang for meetings with Kim, would continue to play a role in the negotiations.

Mr Trump's comments Friday came after days of mixed messages on the summit.

The about-faces in one day could be signs that the summit can get back on track - or, analysts said, it could be Kim and Trump working to ensure the other one gets the blame for the summit's failure.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Friday that a recently scrapped summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea may still take place if diplomats can pull it off.

A senior White House official said the North had reneged on its promises ahead of the summit, including a pledge to allow worldwide inspectors to monitor its explosive destruction of its nuclear test site.

Analysts say Kim's diplomatic outreach in recent months after a flurry of nuclear and missile tests in 2017 indicates he is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the global legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide.

While details of what became the fourth inter-Korean summit have not been announced, it was nearly certainly about the Kim-Trump summit scheduled for June 12 in Singapore before Trump called it off Thursday. The presidential Blue House did not immediately provide more details.

What Mr Trump was referring to?

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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