Top Korean aide lands in Singapore as summit looms

Trump: Plan for June summit with North Korea 'hasn't changed'

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday a US team had arrived in North Korea to prepare for a proposed summit between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Trump pulled out of last week before reconsidering.

The US has chose to push back additional planned sanctions against North Korea as the countries progress on talks of a future summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

But South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that the reclusive North Korean leader is indeed committed to a full denuclearization of the peninsula, after the two leaders gathered in an impromptu meeting Saturday in hopes of jump-starting diplomatic talks once more.

USA negotiators, headed by Washington's current ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, met with North Korean counterparts in the truce village of Panmunjom that divides the two Koreas on Sunday.

Mr Joseph Hagin, a deputy White House chief of staff, is leading a separate delegation to Singapore, to make decisions on the arrangements for the potentially historic but off-again, on-again summit between the North Korean leader and President Donald Trump. Sung Kim, the former US ambassador to South Korea and current ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, an American official told Reuters.

"If this summit happens and fails it could suit Kim Jong-un, and if it succeeds it could change the world far more dramatically than they have been expecting".

A White House statement said that in their call, Trump and Abe "affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs". Sung Kim is a former US ambassador to South Korea and was a top negotiator with North Korea in past nuclear talks.

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The two officials know each other well - both were part of their respective delegations that negotiated the 2005 denuclearization agreement through the six-party framework.

The U.S. has chose to hold off on implementing major new sanctions on North Korea while attempts to revive the summit are underway, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Yet over the longer term, Moon's desire to cut a peace deal with North Korea during his single five-year term means Trump could find it harder to enforce his "maximum pressure" campaign if talks break down again. Three thousand miles away in Singapore, a team of USA logistics officials arrived late Monday and was expecting the arrival of a corresponding team from Pyongyang.

- So is it going to happen?

The phone conversation took place before Trump went to Arlington National Cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony.There the president made no reference to the situation on the Korean peninsula in his 22-minute scripted remarks. "But that's not all bad", said Max Baucus, a former Democratic senator from Montana who also served as US Ambassador to China from 2014 to 2017. Since then, North Korea has rejected USA demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

On May 24, Trump suddenly announced that the U.S. is pulling out of the planned summit, citing "tremendous anger" and "open hostility" displayed by the hermit kingdom.

USA officials have talked about a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later.

The Blue House said on Monday that discussions on Mr Moon's potential involvement in the US-North Korea event were at an early stage. Kim is a former American top nuclear envoy and ambassador to South Korea. The North Korean leader could now "continue to play nice in public but stall out the process behind closed doors", said Mount, of Federation of American Scientists.

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