Monday, January 21, 2019 | ePaper

US in `extremely high` level talks with North Korea on summit: Trump

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President Donald Trump says the US and North Korea are holding extremely high level talks, possibly with Kim Jong Un.

Reuters  Beach, Fla :
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States is engaged in direct talks at "extremely high levels" with North Korea to try to set up a summit between him and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
Trump made the comment as he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened two days of talks at the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, meetings that are to include a round of golf.
Trump said he believed there was a lot of good will in the diplomatic push, but also said it is possible the summit - first proposed in March and which the president said could take place in late May or early June - may not happen.
Efforts to arrange an unprecedented meeting between U.S. and North Korean leaders have helped ease tensions over Pyongyang's development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States. Kim has agreed to discuss denuclearization, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.
"We have had direct talks at very high levels - extremely high levels - with North Korea. I really believe there's a lot of good will; a lot of good things are happening. We'll see what happens. As I always say, we'll see what happens, because ultimately it's the end result that matters, not the fact that we're thinking about having a meeting or having a meeting," Trump said.
Trump did not identify who on the U.S. side was talking to the North Koreans and senior U.S. officials would not comment.
Contacts between the two side in recent weeks have involved U.S. intelligence and State Department officials, a U.S. official told Reuters this month. The most senior U.S. official known to have visited Pyongyang in recent years was then-U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper in 2014.
Trump, who has exchanged bellicose threats with Kim in the past year, said U.S. officials are looking at five different locations for a meeting with Kim. Asked if any of those were in the United States, Trump said "no".
A U.S. official said sites in southeast Asia and in Europe were among those under discussion. Kim has rarely left North Korea.Speculation has centred on a range of sites including Pyongyang, the demilitarized zone between the Koreas, Stockholm, Geneva and Mongolia.
Talks between Trump and Abe are largely focused on the prospective summit with Kim as Japan seeks a U.S. commitment that any denuclearization deal the president seals with Kim will include not just long-range missiles but those that could be aimed at Japan.
"For the North Korean issue, I'd like to underscore the importance of achieving the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, as well as the abandonment of missile programs of North Korea," Abe told Trump.
Abe also obtained an agreement from Trump to bring up the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, a highly emotive issue for the Japanese.

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