May 30, 2018 12:37
U.S. officials are holding more behind-the-scenes talks with North Korea ahead of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The officials left the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Seoul on Tuesday after trying desperately to avoid the South Korean media. The talks take place Wednesday in the border truce village of Panmunjom.
Allison Hooker, a National Security Council official for Korean affairs, left the hotel by car at 9:40 a.m. on Tuesday, followed by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, a seasoned nuclear negotiator, and Randall Shriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs.
They used a staff elevator to sneak out through the underground car park to avoid running into reporters.
They last met on Sunday with a group of North Korean officials headed by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui. More time is needed before the two sides agree on the timing of nuclear dismantlement and level of rewards.
CNN reported Monday that Trump is pressuring his staff to hold the summit on June 12 as scheduled despite concerns that an agreement is a long way off.
Publicly, the U.S. insists that the success of the summit hinges on the North's attitude, but the purpose of the working-level talks is to narrow differences, paving the way for the basic draft of a joint statement.
At a higher level, meanwhile, the North Korean leader's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol flew to New York to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
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