Published: Sun, May 27, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

United States team heading to Singapore to work on summit

United States team heading to Singapore to work on summit

South Korea's presidential palace said that President Moon Jae-in met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone from 3 to 5 p.m, Yonhap news agency reported.

It took place at Tongilgak, a building on the North Korean side of Panmunjeom, with the presidential office releasing photos of the two leaders together, including one of them sharing a warm embrace.

In a tweet Friday, the president said his administration is having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the meeting.

The summit, set for June 12, was jeopardized when, on May 11, the USA and South Korea started a two-week annual air combat regional exercise, viewed by Pyongyang as a threat to its security.

"We're talking to them now", Trump said of the North Koreans. "We'd like to do it".

Only last month the two leaders met in the same village, with Kim famously inviting Moon to step briefly into the North before they both held talks in a building on the South's side.

Trump's initial cancellation of the summit blindsided treaty ally Seoul, with President Moon Jae-in calling the move "shocking and very regrettable".

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday, that "we are working on plans going forward".

"We never expected it to be easy", Nauert told reporters.

Following the meeting, US President Donald Trump announced that he would hold a summit with the North Korean leader in "the coming weeks".

That was a theme Kim Kye Gwan, a veteran North Korean nuclear negotiator, had expressed in starker terms a week ago when he lashed out at Trump's national security adviser John Bolton for saying that the disarmament of Libya in 2004 was a model for a possible deal with North Korea.

The original decision to abandon the historic summit blindsided South Korea which had been brokering a remarkable détente between Washington and Pyongyang after months of Kim and Trump trading insults and threats of war.

As the date drew nearer, however, a gulf in expectations between the two sides became apparent. Trump cited North Korean hostility in cancelling the summit.

Koh said Moon would try to persuade Kim to accept an alternative approach advocated by Seoul, in which the North's comprehensive commitment and credible actions toward denuclearization are followed by a phased but compressed process of declaration, inspection and verifiable dismantling.

Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrent until it feels safe from what it terms U.S. aggression.

Trump's decision to pull out of the summit with Kim came just days after he hosted Moon in a White House meeting where he openly cast doubts on the Singapore meeting but offered no support for continued inter-Korean progress, essentially ignoring the North's recent attempts to coerce the South.

However, only a small group of worldwide journalists handpicked by Pyongyang were invited to attend the demolition at the Punggye-ri site. "We didn't want to go to a meeting just for the sake of going to a meeting". There, former leader Colonel Gaddafi gave up his nascent nuclear programme only for him to be killed by Western-backed rebels a few years later. "We'd like to do it", he said. He said Pyongyang was willing "to sit face to face at any time".

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