Trump and Abe to meet before North Korea summit

Alex Brandon  AP

Alex Brandon AP

Of the countries seeking to influence negotiations with North Korea, Japan has remained the most hard-line, consistently calling for complete and immediate denuclearisation as well as the removal of all missiles and biological weapons.

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programmes as a deterrent against perceived aggression by the USA, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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His entry caused such a stir plain-clothed officials from South Korea's National Counter-terrorism Centre were forced to step in and move him away from the North's cheerleaders who were sitting nearby.

A team of American diplomats involved in preparatory discussions ahead of a potential summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have left a hotel in Seoul amid speculation that they are resuming the talks. The second was held with no prior notice and only announced hours after it had concluded.

Reports emerged on Sunday in the Washington Post that a delegation of American officials had held talks with DPRK officials in the northern side of the inter-Korean border.

While both Trump and Kim have appeared eager to hold the summit, the two sides have remained far apart on the key issue of denuclearization, with North Korea rejecting US demands for it to unilaterally abandon a nuclear weapons program that now threatens the United States.

The President later in the day said the meeting would see the two sides "make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself". "We continue to prepare for a meeting between the president and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un". And the US doesn't seem to have a clear Plan B.

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Pyongyang has a different view of denuclearisation and remains deeply anxious that abandoning its deterrent would leave the country - and its leader - vulnerable, especially while the United States maintains a robust military presence in South Korea. Clapper's negotiating partner at that time was Kim Yong-chol, then-head of the North Korean People's Army's Reconnaissance General Bureau, its main spy agency, and current director of the North's United Front Department, which is responsible for inter-Korean relations. Another U.S. delegation was in Singapore to work on logistics.

Mr Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, is also part of the team.

"What's more important than anything from the latest inter-Korean summit was that the leaders easily got in contact, easily made an appointment and easily met to discuss urgent matters, without complicated procedures and formalities, just like a casual meeting", Moon said Monday, according to Reuters.

The U.S. president has increasingly offered economic rewards in exchange for denuclearization, although the exact terms of any deal are unclear.

Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi agreed in 2003 to give up his weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms, in return for sanctions relief.

"However, during the US-South Korea summit, President Trump clearly emphasised that we may see not only the end of hostile relations but also economic cooperation if North Korea denuclearizes", Moon said.

But in forging ahead with direct diplomacy, Moon has "brought South Korea and its interests into the middle of the frame after a year when much of the focus was on escalation between Washington and Pyongyang", says Stephen Power, U.S. Program Director at the International Crisis Group.

And in turn, the White House has been making preparations through multiple tracks of dialogue. It was led by Joe Hagin, White House deputy chief of staff for operations.

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