White House says North Korea is willing to talk denuclearization

Posted April 09, 2018

South Korea's presidential office said Sunday while they can not confirm whether such talks have been taking place, it is a certainly a "good sign" in paving the way for the high-stakes summit between North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.

CNN on Saturday quoted multiple government officials familiar with the discussions as saying that the talks are a sign that planning for the highly anticipated meeting is progressing.

That work has been led by Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick to become secretary of State.

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Last month, China said it won a pledge from Kim, who was on a surprise visit to Beijing for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

USA and North Korean officials have reportedly been trying to nail down a location for the summit, with the North Koreans pushing for Pyongyang and the Americans calling for a more neutral location, like Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. The agenda of the meeting is not yet known, and North Korea has not been clear about what steps it is willing to take to move toward denuclearization. A date will be set once the two sides can agree on a location.

Last week, Trump told associates that he was looking forward to the summit, which he agreed to on the spot when presented the invitation from Kim. But Pyongyang has affirmed Kim's willingness to put the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula on the table, the sources said.

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Kim (right) is open to discussing denuclearization during the historic meeting with Trump.

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White House officials have not said where the Trump-Kim summit will be held. "It's a good signal that the talks are going back and forth (between the U.S. and North Korea)". The CIA has been using intelligence channels while the State Department has been in contact with North Korea by way of the North Korean mission to the United Nations in NY. The Koreas have to also decide how many times Kim and Moon would meet on April 27 and whether parts of the summit would be broadcast on live television. The U.S. president accepted Kim's offer before the U.S. could confirm the North's offer was genuine, and a meeting between the two was promised by the end of May.

North Korea was "suffocating" under global sanctions, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday, adding, "They need an out".

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