US Officials Cross Into North Korea For Summit Preparations

North Korea, North Korean Summit, Opinion


 

by Ryan Pickrell

U.S. officials reportedly traveled to North Korea Sunday to prepare for a possible summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The American delegation was led by Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, the former ambassador to South Korea and an experienced nuclear negotiator, The Washington Post reported Sunday. The U.S. team met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, a senior North Korean official who recently criticized Trump’s administration, causing the president to cancel his summit with Kim.

“Bringing in Sung Kim is a good idea — looks like Pompeo is really trying to make this happen,” North Korea expert Jeffrey Lewis tweeted in response to the newest development.

Trump sent a letter to Kim Thursday canceling the summit. “I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” the president explained.

North Korea responded quickly, calling the move regrettable while expressing a strong desire for dialogue.

North Korea “would like to make known to the U.S. side once again that we have the intent to sit with the U.S. side to solve [the] problem regardless of ways at any time,” the North Korean foreign ministry said in an official statement carried in a state media report. The North’s “warm” and “productive” response led Trump to reconsider his decision to cancel the summit.

The U.S. and North Korea were in talks to save the landmark summit, the president announced May 25. “We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the summit,” he tweeted. The summit might still be held in Singapore on June 12, he suggested.

“There are meetings going on as we speak,” Trump revealed Saturday night.

News of the U.S. team’s trip to North Korea follows a surprise inter-Korean summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in Saturday, marking the second summit between the two leaders in a month and the fourth inter-Korean summit overall. Despite recent tensions following a decision by Pyongyang to cancel talks with Seoul, the two Korean leaders embraced one another as friends at the border.

Both Kim and Moon expressed a commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a desire to see talks between Washington and Pyongyang succeed.

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