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US delegation in N Korea to prepare for summit with Kim: Trump

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Washington, May 28:  President Donald Trump today said a US team was in North Korea for preparatory talks ahead of a potential meeting between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, signalling that the much-talked about summit in Singapore on June 12 was back on track.

“Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself,” Trump said in a tweet on Sunday.

While the US did not announce the delegation’s members, The Washington Post reported that Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North, had been called in from his posting as envoy to the Philippines to lead the preparations.

Sung Kim met with North Korea’s Vice-Foreign minister Choe Son Hui, who said last week that Pyongyang was “reconsidering” the talks, the daily said.

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

The talks are expected to continue tomorrow at Tongilgak, or “Unification House,” the building in the northern part of the demilitarised zone where Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday, The Post reported.

The presence of Sung Kim is a clear sign that the summit between the two leaders is back on track, CNN reported.

Trump last Thursday abruptly withdrew from the planned Singapore summit with Kim but quickly announced that it could get back on track.

The cancellation apparently followed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo setting some strict ground-rules ahead for the meeting, which in turn resulted in a North Korean minister  saying that Pyongyang could make the US “taste an appalling tragedy” and that a stalemate could lead to a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”

Later, the North Korean leaders said they were ready to meet anytime and anywhere. Kim had an unscheduled meeting with South Korean President Moon where they discussed ways to revive the Singapore summit.

Yesterday, Trump said he saw “brilliant potential” in North Korea, continuing an upbeat tone about his planned summit with Kim.

“I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!” Trump tweeted.

Last year, Trump and Kim were threatening war after Pyongyang tested its most powerful nuclear bomb to date and launched test missiles it said were capable of reaching the United States.

Tensions were calmed after Kim extended an olive branch to Seoul by offering to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, leading to a sudden detente that led to Trump agreeing to hold direct talks with the North Korean leader.

If the Singapore summit takes place, it would be the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president.

The details of the potential US-North Korea meeting remain unclear, but discussions would focus on ways of denuclearising the Korean peninsula and reducing tensions.

The US and North Korea have differed over the exact details of what “denuclearisation” would mean.

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