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A second U.S.-N. Korea summit likely to be held in February

A second U.S.-N. Korea summit likely to be held in February

Posted January. 12, 2019 07:47,   

Updated January. 12, 2019 07:47


A second U.S.-North Korea summit is likely to be held around the middle of February, according to sources. A high-ranking government official said a second summit will be held in the second week of February. Against this backdrop, the South Korean government is reportedly in talks with China over President Xi Jinping’s possible visit to South Korea in May following his visit to North Korea in April, signaling summit diplomacy between the countries concerned.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, a South Korean high-ranking government official said a second U.S.-North Korea summit is likely to be held in the second week (Feb. 3-9) of February. This means North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will sit with U.S. President Donald Trump for nuclear negotiations in a month after he met with the Chinese president. A diplomatic source said Washington and Pyongyang are moving the date of a second summit forward, which was originally scheduled between early February and early March.

North Korea’s leading nuclear weapons negotiator Kim Yong Chol is likely to visit New York in the near future. When asked about U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s possible trip to Pyongyang, the high-ranking official said, “Washington and Pyongyang had agreed to hold a high-level meeting in New York (on Nov. 8, 2018). I’m not aware of having one there (Pyongyang).” When asked, “Will Kim Yong Chol visit New York this time?” he said, “Yes.”

Agendas for a second summit are likely to be discussed mainly at the U.S.-North Korea high-level meeting. North Korea is demanding rewards for denuclearization first while the U.S. is urging North Korea to take steps toward denuclearization first. To the question if the two countries are narrowing their differences, the high-ranking official said they both are willing to produce a result but the negotiation process is not easy.

The high-ranking official added that reopening of the Kaesong industrial complex and Kumgang Mountain tourism can be bargaining chips between the U.S. and North Korea. “The U.S. can use them as one of their bargaining chips as they are less affected by the U.N. sanctions. North Korea might consider them as the first outcome of economic cooperation,” the official said. “To restart the Kaesong industrial complex, they will have to find a way where bulk cash is not transferred (to North Korea) to avoid violation (of sanctions by the UN Security Council).”

There is also a possibility that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit South Korea following his trip to North Korea. “As far as I know, President Xi will be visiting North Korea in April and it is highly likely that he will visit South Korea in May,” said Lee Hae-chan, the chief of the ruling Democratic Party, while meeting with Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff, at the National Assembly on Thursday. “South Korea and China are in talks about President Xi’s possible visit to Korea. But no concrete schedule has been outlined,” Noh told reporters.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com