US, South Korea work to keep North Korea summit on track


Reporters from China, Britain, the U.S. and Russian Federation yesterday flew from Beijing to the North Korean city of Wonsan, from where they will travel for some 20 hours up the east coast by train and bus to the remote test site.

Travel will involve an 11-hour train ride, a four-hour bus journey and then a hike of another hour, a reporter with Russia's RT said on Twitter.

During a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday, Trump expressed pessimism about whether his summit with Kim would take place as planned on June 12 in Singapore.

Skepticism about the North's intentions have mounted in recent weeks after Kim's government pulled out of planned peace talks with the South last week, objecting to long-scheduled joint military exercises between USA and South Korean forces.

North Korea has scheduled the dismantlement of its nuclear test site for sometime between May 23 and 25 depending on weather conditions, in order to uphold its pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, state media have said. They had previously been excluded from the symbolic ceremony for North Korea's denuclearization efforts.

To date, North Korea has taken few concrete steps beyond halting the nuclear and missile tests that ratcheted up tensions a year ago.

However, the Unification Ministry said today that Pyongyang had now granted them permission.

Pompeo has met twice with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, once in April as Central Intelligence Agency director and earlier this month as secretary of State when he brought back three US detainees held by North Korea.

National security adviser John Bolton, who has been outspoken in his hawkish views toward North Korea, drew Pyongyang's ire when he suggested Trump use a so-called "Libya model" to rid the country of its nuclear weapons. I think we'll get those conditions. It has also criticised the Max Thunder drills.

Nonetheless, Kim appeared to be going ahead with plans to shut down his northern nuclear test site this week, with foreign reporters en route to North Korea to witness the event.

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Trump weighed in Tuesday, say there was a "very substantial chance" the planned summit with Kim "won't work out".

China said both the United States and North Korea were still making preparations for the summit, and Beijing hoped both sides can "clear away distractions".

Pompeo on Monday detailed 12 demands that Trump expects Iran to meet as part of a new deal he hopes to negotiate, and that the USA would impose the toughest sanctions in history to bring that about.

"We still look forward to the meeting between the USA and North Korean leaders proceeding smoothly and achieving positive results".

"President Trump seems committed to meeting with Kim Jong-un, but. he also seems aware that there may be practical restrictions on the process moving too quickly", he said.

High-level intra-Korea talks will likely resume after Friday, once Max Thunder finishes, Moon's media secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

North Korea's absence at the earlier meetings reportedly raised alarms at the White House, which coincided with the timing of North Korea's change in posture last week.

North Korea has rejected unilateral disarmament and given no indication that it is willing to go beyond statements of broad support for the concept of universal denuclearisation.

"Why we demand the summit to be held is that the world needs peace, Korea needs peace and only the people working on building peace together with their political leaders can bring peace to Korea and our world", Maguire said.