Secret, direct talks underway between US, North Korea

Apr 09, 2018, 01:24
Secret, direct talks underway between US, North Korea

North Korean officials have told their USA counterparts that Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss denuclearisation, an assurance that could pave the way for a meeting with President Donald Trump, reports said Sunday.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and the CIA team have been operating through intelligence back-channels to make arrangements for the summit, the CNN news channel reported.

Kim, relying on South Korean diplomats to relay the message, requested a meeting with Trump in March, and the president accepted. There was no immediate word on the possible venue for the talks, which would be the first ever between a sitting USA president and North Korean leader.

USA and North Korean officials have reportedly been hashing out terms of the agreement through back channels led by CIA Director Mike Pompeo - Trump's nominee to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The timeline for the Trump-Kim summit remains unknown although the South Korean side have said that it would take place next month.

South Korea's presidential office said that the country's defense and foreign ministers and some other senior officials visited Panmunjom together on Friday.

Kim is also slated to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a border village on April 27.

"I confirm that the United States and North Korea have been holding talks in preparation for a summit, and that North Korea has confirmed its willingness to talk about de-nuclearisation", a National Security Council spokesperson told the FT.

The talks will lay the groundwork for a meeting between Mr Pompeo and his North Korea counterpart, who is the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau. "It's a good signal that the talks are going back and forth (between the United States and North Korea)".

China and Russian Federation are both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, which has imposed sanctions on North Korea in a bid to force negotiations with Pyongyang.

The spokesperson would not say who had met with North Korea officials, describing the details as internal U.S. preparations, but added that "a comprehensive, whole-of-government effort in support of the president is actively under way".

CNN reports that Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is also being considered as a potential meeting place.

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