Trump-Kim Singapore summit

US, North Korean officials prepare ground for Trump-Kim summit

American officials (left), led by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and North Korean officials (right), led by the country's Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore yesterday morning for working-l
American officials (above), led by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and North Korean officials, led by the country's Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore yesterday morning for working-level talks. Mr Kim, a former nuclear envoy, is also an expert on North Korea, while Ms Choe has extensive experience in international affairs and on nuclear issues.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
American officials (left), led by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and North Korean officials (right), led by the country's Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore yesterday morning for working-l
American officials, led by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and North Korean officials (above), led by the country's Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore yesterday morning for working-level talks. Mr Kim, a former nuclear envoy, is also an expert on North Korea, while Ms Choe has extensive experience in international affairs and on nuclear issues.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

Meeting aimed at narrowing differences over a draft agreement on denuclearisation

Officials from the United States and North Korea met at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore hotel yesterday morning to hold talks which aimed to narrow differences over a draft agreement on denuclearisation ahead of today's summit.

The working-level meeting was led by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. Ms Choe has extensive experience in international affairs and on nuclear issues, having worked as an interpreter for nuclear negotiations involving her country since the 1990s, while Mr Kim, a former nuclear envoy, is also an expert on North Korea.

 

Both Mr Kim and Ms Choe were spotted entering the Marina Bay hotel before 10am. They spent over two hours at the venue before leaving, to media scrums.

The crowd of foreign and local journalists, who waited at the entrance of the hotel during their stay, rushed up to them as soon as they were spotted, hoping to speak to Ms Choe - who left first with her entourage - and Mr Kim.

Neither of them spoke to the dozens of reporters who swarmed around their cars, asking questions.

Their meeting comes as US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, are set to hold a summit at Capella Singapore hotel on Sentosa today.

The talks yesterday appeared to be aimed at making eleventh-hour progress ahead of the summit, as earlier talks involving Mr Sung Kim did little to narrow a gap on the definition of denuclearisation, or win agreement on tangible commitments from Pyongyang towards dismantling its nuclear arsenal.

 
 
 
 

US and North Korean teams, led by Mr Kim and Ms Choe, have held at least five rounds of talks at the border truce village of Panmunjom - in the Demilitarised Zone between the two Koreas - to prepare for the Trump-Kim summit, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Citing an interview with a US official, South Korea's largest public broadcaster KBS reported that working-level talks yesterday aimed to refine a draft agreement on the North's denuclearisation.

It added that the North is expected to make a decision about moving nuclear weapons out of the country in line with solid security guarantees from the US.

In a tweet after yesterday morning's talks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said both parties had "substantive and detailed meetings" as Ambassador Kim met the North Korean delegation.

In an earlier tweet - accompanied by a photograph of him meeting his State Department team, including Mr Kim, in the morning - Mr Pompeo said the US remained "committed to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2018, with the headline 'US, North Korean officials prepare ground for summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe