June 01, 2018 12:02
U.S. negotiators who held two meetings with their North Korean counterparts in the truce village of Panmunjom have extended their stay in South Korea. The move raises speculation that more talks are needed to prepare for a North Korea-U.S. summit slated for June 12 in Singapore.
At a higher level, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right hand man Kim Yong-chol met in New York on Thursday to hammer out a way forward.
Kim Yong-chol is now slated to fly to Washington and deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un to U.S. President Donald Trump. Earlier, Trump said talks between Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol made progress toward the summit and he "looks forward" to seeing what is in the letter. But he also hinted the summit could be delayed.
"We'll see. And hopefully we'll have a meeting on the 12th. That's going along very well, but I want it to be meaningful. It doesn't mean it gets all done at one meeting; maybe you have to have a second or a third. And maybe we'll have none," Trump said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "We are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12 and we'll be ready if it does happen on June 12."
The U.S. team led by Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim were expected to leave South Korea on Thursday, soon after a second meeting with the North Koreans, but Washington told them to delay their departure. CNN reported that the team will stay in South Korea at least another day.
Negotiators met twice in Panmunjom this week and apparently reached broad agreement on the North's denuclearization and the guarantees for the regime's survival. But the speed and timing of denuclearization and rewards remain hairy issues, with the U.S. continuously upping demands.
Washington demands "speedy and verifiable" denuclearization, including having North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missiles taken away, while the North wants the U.S. to reduce "hostility" and give economic rewards at each stage of denuclearization.
Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported that the North Korean negotiators insisted that Pyongyang has already demonstrated its willingness to scrap its nuclear weapons by blowing up its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.
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