Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Top officials scramble to make Trump-Kim summit a reality

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will pirouette on a diplomatic catwalk in a calculated game of international one-upmanship Ivanka Trump, Not Rex Tillerson, Will Meet South Korea's Foreign Minister Amid North Korea Negotiations
Kenny Thornton | 17 March, 2018, 07:14

South Korea has said it was seeking high-level talks this month with North Korea to prepare for a summit and that South Korean President Moon Jae-in may meet Donald Trump before the U.S. president's planned meeting with the North Korean leader.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho (L) leaves the Swedish government building Rosenbad in central Stockholm on March 16, 2018.

During his two-day visit, Ri was to hold talks with his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, a possible Trump-Kim summit, and the fate of three Americans detained in the North.

Sweden is one of a handful of places analysts believe could host the meeting, along with Switzerland, the neutral nation where Kim went to school; the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea; and China, which has diplomatic relations with the United States and North Korea and has hosted Kim's father, the late Kim Jong Il. It provides consular services for the U.S.in North Korea.

A White House statement on the phone call said that both leaders "affirmed the importance of learning from the mistakes of the past, and pledged continued, close coordination to maintain maximum pressure on the North Korean regime".

Mr Trump has agreed to meet Mr Kim by May.

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North Korea's top diplomat is in Sweden this week.

After months of tension and warmongering over Pyongyang's nuclear programme, Trump has agreed to a summit proposal relayed by South Korean envoys who met Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

Sweden, whose embassy represents United States interests in the North Korean capital, has been touted as a possible venue for the momentous summit between Kim and Trump and Ri's visit fuelled speculation that a Stockholm encounter was in the cards. "We will not disclose what they talked about", PM Stefan Lofven's spokesman Jonatan Holst told AFP.

One topic was said to be confidence-building measures with the USA, including the release of USA citizens from North Korean detention.

"We have always said we want to be a mediator that facilitates this process", he said.

The South Korean president's chief of staff, who chairs the interagency preparation committee for the inter-Korean summit slated for late April, made the announcement following the first meeting of the committee Friday afternoon.

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