International

US, North Korea to hold talks this week

SEOUL, Jan 15 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/15/2019 11:43:46 AM IST

The United States and North Korea plan to hold high-level talks in Washington this week to discuss a second meeting between their leaders, South Korean media said on Tuesday, as the old enemies seek an “interim” deal to revitalise nuclear talks.

The meeting, led by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, is due on Thursday or Friday, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified diplomatic source familiar with the issue. They are expected to finalise the date and venue of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the newspaper said.

The U.S. embassy in Seoul referred questions to the White House. 

The White House offered no immediate comment on the Chosun Ilbo report, while a State Department official said: “We don’t have any meetings to announce.”

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified diplomatic source as saying Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol could meet this week.

The North Korean delegation could visit the United States “as soon as this week” but plans have not been finalised, a CNN reporter, citing an unidentified source, said on Twitter.

Trump wrote Kim Jong Un a letter, which was flown to Pyongyang and hand delivered over the weekend, the CNN reporter added, citing the source.

South Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman told reporters the North and the United States were “in contact” but it was “inappropriate” to comment on plans for talks.

A meeting this week could mean the two sides are nearing a compromise after months of standoff over how to move forward in ending North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Trump and Kim pledged at their first summit, in Singapore in June, to work towards denuclearisation “of the Korean peninsula”. But there has been little significant progress.

Pompeo, who made several trips to Pyongyang last year, sought to meet his counterpart last November, but the talks were called off at the last minute.

Contact was resumed after Kim’s New Year’s speech, in which he said he was willing to meet Trump “at any time,” South Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Cho Yoon-je, told reporters last week.

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