More US-North Korea talks next week to prepare for summit

SEOUL • The United States and North Korea will hold further talks next week to prepare for a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this month, Seoul said yesterday.

The news comes a day after US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said more dialogue was needed ahead of the summit scheduled in Vietnam.

"North Korea and the US have agreed to continue negotiations in a third country in Asia during the week of Feb 17," South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters.

He did not provide further details.

Mr Biegun travelled to Pyong-yang earlier this month for three days of preparatory meetings with North Korean officials, with the US State Department saying the talks focused on Mr Trump and Mr Kim's "commitments of complete denuclearisation, transforming US-DPRK relations and building a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula", using the North's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim are due to meet in Hanoi on Feb 27 and 28, following their landmark first summit in Singapore last June.

That meeting - the first-ever between the leaders of the United States and North Korea - produced a vaguely worded document in which Mr Kim pledged to work towards "the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

But progress has since stalled, with the two sides disagreeing over what that means and analysts say tangible progress on denuclearisation will be needed for the second summit if it is to avoid being dismissed as "reality TV".

Mr Trump's own intelligence chief, Mr Dan Coats, has expressed scepticism over the North's denuclearisation and told the US Senate Intelligence Committee that Pyongyang was "unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons".


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2019, with the headline More US-North Korea talks next week to prepare for summit. Subscribe