Senior officials from the United States and North Korea are expected to hold a meeting in Washington later this week to discuss a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, following a prolonged deadlock in denuclearization talks, sources say.
A meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean leader’s right-hand man, Kim Yong-chol, is expected to take place on Thursday or Friday in Washington, South Korean state-run news agency, Yonhap, cited an unnamed diplomatic source as saying on Tuesday.
“Given Secretary Pompeo’s other commitments, it’s true that (he’s) available for the talks on January 17-18,” the source said, adding that the two sides were resolved to have face-to-face negotiations.
Furthermore, the Seoul-based newspaper Chosun Ilbo, also citing an unnamed source, reported earlier in the day that Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol would likely meet in Washington later this week, adding that the top aide to the North Korean leader would start a two-day trip to the US capital on Thursday.
The daily further said that the two were expected to finalize the date and location of a second summit between President Trump and leader Kim. It also reported that the North’s envoy is likely to meet the American president as well during his stay in Washington.
Pyongyang has not yet commented on the reports. However, Reuters on Tuesday quoted an unnamed official from the US State Department as saying, “We don’t have any meetings to announce.”
If confirmed, the high-level meeting could mean the two countries are nearing a compromise following a months-long standoff over how to move forward in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
Back in November, the American secretary of state was supposed to hold a meeting with Kim, who is also the vice chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, in New York, but it was abruptly canceled by Pyongyang over the US’s failure to reciprocate North Korean steps toward denuclearization.
US media have cited Vietnam and Thailand as candidate venues for a second summit, but Yonhap speculated that there is a possibility that the truce village of Panmunjom along the inter-Korean border will be picked.
Earlier this month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said that he thought a second summit between Trump and Kim was “imminent.”
Multilateral diplomacy led to the first summit between Trump and Kimin July last year, which was held in Singapore. There, Trump and Kim broadly agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But diplomacy has been sluggish since then.
Washington insists that UN and US harsh sanctions must remain in place until Pyongyang gives up its nuclear program, while Kim wants them immediately eased.
North Korea has already taken several unilateral measures toward denuclearization, including suspension missile and nuclear testing, demolishing at least one nuclear test site, and agreeing to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility and another nuclear testing site.
Earlier this month, the North’s leader said that he wanted to “achieve results” on the nuclear standoff on the peninsula in his second summit with Trump, stressing that his country would “make efforts for the second summit between DPRK (North Korea) and US leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community.”
Pyongyang, however, has also warned that it would take “a new path” if Washington fails to cooperate. (Press TV)