Monday, 15 October, 2018

Top Korean aide lands in Singapore as summit looms

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Glenn Montgomery | 29 May, 2018, 11:32

The maximum pressure effort through economic sanctions have helped facilitate North Korea's interest in denuclearization as much as the threat of force, Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World", told guest host Leland Vittert. The President has publicly discarded those worries and sent signals he is intent on carrying out the talks he himself canceled only four days ago.

"Disadvantages that would have stopped other presidents - that North Korea would be left with nominally much stronger forces than the South, that China would be the long-term beneficiary of a U.S. withdrawal from Northeast Asia, that other allies around the world including in Europe would feel undermined - will not necessarily halt Trump". So we're looking at June 12th in Singapore.

Abe and Trump spoke by telephone a day after American and North Korean officials met at a border truce village to prepare for the summit.

Planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for June 12, appears to be moving ahead after the U.S. president called it off last week.

"I told him that it's absolutely necessary to resolve the issue", the prime minister said.

Now, Chang says, President Trump needs to "bully" China in their trade talks to show Kim the US will not bend on its demands to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

For the moment, Mr Moon has maintained an appearance as a neutral middleman who can bridge the gap between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, two reactive leaders who create a high risk of miscalculation.

Trump confirmed Sunday that a delegation of US officials visited North Korea to "make arrangements" for the summit, after the State Department said that a team had been sent to the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, separating the North from the South.

"I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day", Trump said.

Still Trump tweeted that he believes the summit can move forward, and Kim, through the state-run news service, expressed a "fixed will" on the talks happening.

The Trump administration has demanded that North Korea completely and irreversibly shut its nuclear weapons program.

"Sending such an experienced and professional team signals that the Trump administration is getting serious about the specifics of an agreement", said former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, Abraham Denmark.

A United States official said Sung Kim, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, would lead an American delegation to meet North Korean officials at the border.

In a meeting with senior secretaries, Mr. Moon announced that more unplanned discussions would occur between North and South Korea.

Despite repeated references to "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" by the North, it remains unclear whether Kim will ever agree to fully abandon his nuclear arsenal.

According to the State Department, the USA team met with North Korean officials at the same DMZ site, the village of Panmunjom. Moon called the gathering a meaningful attempt to clear up "some difficulties in communication" as the two leaders shared warm words on the northern side of their border. More meetings will take place today.

The details of such a plan, however, remain in question.

A USA official told the Journal that the White House had been set to announce the sanctions as soon as Tuesday but will now delay them indefinitely as negotiations with North Korea continue. Usually, these kind of summits are planned months if not years in advance. A similar, painstaking process yielded the Iran nuclear deal which Trump derided and withdrew from last month. "And we'll be here satirizing the whole situation". But experts are hardly optimistic about a breakthrough, even if the meeting goes ahead.

A "pre-advance" team of US officials has also traveled to Singapore to meet with North Koreans there, the White House said. Teams had already been surveying hotel ballrooms and other possible locations for the meeting when Trump declared it canceled last week.

Kim Yong Chol, a four-star general who has been at the forefront of North Korea's diplomatic outreach, landed at Beijing capital airport on Tuesday, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

Chief among his concerns, according to USA officials familiar with the discussions, are Kim's security needs in Singapore, including the number of bodyguards he'll be allowed to bring to the meeting with Trump.

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