With US talks in limbo, Korean leaders hold surprise summit

Alex Wroblewski  Getty Images North America

At the press conference, Moon said that the success of the US-North Korea summit hinges on working-level talks between the two countries, and that he has high hopes that the meeting will go as planned on June 12.

South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, gave details about his surprise meeting Saturday with Kim in the Panmunjom truce village, saying Kim had committed to sitting down with Trump and to a "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

"We're doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea", Trump said at the White House. They allowed Moon to push for a US-North Korean summit that he sees as the best way to ease animosity that had some fearing a war previous year.

China, South Korea and the USA all back denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, but differ on how to make that happen.

Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself.

Politico magazine reported earlier that an advance team of 30 White House and State Department officials were preparing to depart later this weekend.

"Panmunjom, the historical land which had once come under global spotlights as a symbol of peace for making a new start of the north-south relations and opening up a new era of reconciliation and unity, witnessed the significant meeting between the top leaders of the north and the south once again after 29 days", North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The KCNA statement said Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon agreed to hold high-level talks between their two nations on June 1, and to take steps to quickly implement their efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.

United States officials are sceptical that Kim will ever fully abandon his nuclear arsenal and Mr Moon said North Korea is not yet convinced it can trust security guarantees from Washington.

North Korea has been subjected to numerous rounds of global sanctions since 2006, which has cut off most of its exports and capped its imports of oil.

Trump's letter to Kim canceling the planned June 12 summit didn't rule out a meeting in the future, said a person familiar with the administration's thinking.

President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that the USA delegation dispatched to North Korea for talks ahead of the potential summit had arrived in the country. It was the leaders' second meeting in as many months.

"Moon essentially helped relay messages from Trump to Kim and vice versa, to further smooth the process and to resume negotiations", he told AFP, saying the Singapore meeting was "clearly back on track". "Please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place", Trump wrote in the letter.

The May summit was seen as Kim's bid to gain diplomatic leverage before his summit with Trump by showing off the Pyongyang-Beijing alliance.

Saturday's talks were only the fourth time serving leaders of the two Koreas, who remain technically at war, have ever met.

"Chairman Kim and I have agreed. our quest for the Korean Peninsula's denuclearisation and a perpetual peace regime should not be halted", Moon told reporters.

Moon was also seen in photos and video shaking hands with Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, who has played a major public role in recent talks with the South, including leading a delegation across the border during February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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