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Kim Jong-Un

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Image source: KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has cut the red ribbon at the new town, Samjiyon, near Mount Paektu.

The North Korean media called the town as the “epitome of modern civilization”.

It is hailed as one of the country’s most important construction projects.

State media KCNA said Samjiyon – which is able to accommodate 4,000 families – boasts new apartments, a ski slope, and a stadium amongst other facilities.

However, forced labor is said to have gone into the construction of the new town.

Samjiyon – even if it lives up to state media billing – will be an outlier in North Korea, where the majority of people live in poor conditions.

North Korea’s Food Shortages Exacerbated by Worse than Usual Harvest

Kim Jong-un Climbs Mount Paektu on Horseback

Kim Jong-un climbs Mount Paektu

According to non-governmental organization the National Committee on North Korea, many “suffer from shortages of food, fuel, electricity, running water and other necessities”.

However, Samjiyon has not exactly been built from the ground up.

A town already existed before the reconstruction. Some buildings were remodeled, while many more were torn down and replaced with new buildings.

State media previously reported that more than 450 new buildings would be constructed, including industrial and recreational facilities.

KCNA said Samjiyon had undergone a “drastic change”, describing it as a “utopia town under socialism”.

It is not clear if anyone has moved in, but Samjiyon was previously home to some residents – though it is also unclear how many.

It is not known how much money has gone into construction of the town.

Construction happened at a time when North Korea is under tough sanctions, and its completion shows how much importance the government placed on the project.

The town is important for its proximity to Mount Paektu – considered to be a sacred mountain in North Korea and said to be the birthplace of Kim Jong-un’s father.

Samjiyon has also been presented as a model for other towns in the country to look up to.

In his annual new year’s address this year, Kim Jong-un directly referenced Samjiyon, calling it an “ideal socialist village”.

He said in his speech: “The whole party, the entire army, and all the people should turn out to transform Samjiyon into a model of modern mountainous city, an ideal socialist village.”

Samjiyon opening is just one part of a bigger scheme. It’s the second stage of a three-stage plan to boost the entire county the town is located in.

The three-stage construction project is expected to be complete by October 2020.

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Image source kremlin.ru

North Korea has accused Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe of mislabeling its latest weapons test, branding him an “imbecile” and “political dwarf”.

The Japanese prime minister condemned North Korea for “repeated launches of ballistic missiles” after two projectiles were fired on November 28.

However, North Korea insisted it was testing a “super-large multiple-rocket launcher”.

On November 30, state media said Japan “may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future”.

North Korea is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions.

It is under various sets of sanctions over its missile and nuclear programs. Lifting the sanctions has been a key aim of North Korea in talks with the US – Japan’s ally – but these have stalled since a summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump broke down in February.

North Korea Launches New Ballistic Missile over Japan

North Korea Fires Missile over Northern Japan

North Korea Launches Fiery Attack on US Following UN Sanctions

North Korea fired what observers in South Korea called two “unidentified projectiles” from its South Hamgyong province into the Sea of Japan on November 28.North Korea Launches New Ballistic Missile over JapanNorth Korea fired what observers in South Korea called two “unidentified projectiles” from its South Hamgyong province into the Sea of Japan on November 28.

Condemning the launch, PM Shinzo Abe said: “North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles are a serious defiance to not only our country but also the international community.”

North Korea issued images said to be of Kim Jong-un inspecting the launch.

The KCNA state media said on November 30: “It can be said that Abe is the only one idiot in the world and the most stupid man ever known in history as he fails to distinguish a missile from a multiple launch rocket system while seeing the photo-accompanied report.”

It added: “Abe may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future and under his nose. Abe is none other than a perfect imbecile and a political dwarf.”

Negotiations between North Korea and the US remain stalled since the collapse of February’s summit in Hanoi.

President Trump and Kim Jong-un did meet again in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Koreas in June and agreed to restart working-level talks.

These began in October, but failed to make any progress.

North Korea has demanded the US change its approach by the end of the year, and was lukewarm in response to a tweet by President Trump hinting at another meeting with Kim Jong-un.

In May, Shinzo Abe said he was ready to meet Kim Jong-un “without conditions”, raising hopes of renewed negotiations on the nuclear issue as well as on the lingering historical issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens.

The Japanese were kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s to help train its spies. Japan believes 17 citizens were abducted, only five of whom have since been repatriated.

However, PM Abe’s offer has not come to fruition. North Korea said this month that the Japanese leader would never set foot in Pyongyang after he condemned an earlier weapons test.

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Image source: KCNA

Kim Jong-un has climbed North Korea’s highest mountain, Mount Paektu, on horseback, according to state media.

A series of photos released by KCNA show the North Korean leader astride a white horse on a snow-covered mountain.

This is not the first time Kim Jong-un has scaled the 2,750-meter peak and analysts say such gestures have been known to precede major announcements.

Mount Paektu holds a special place in North Korea’s identity and is feted as the birthplace of Kim Jong-un’s father.

A KCNA report released on October 16 said: “His march on horseback in Mt Paektu is a great event of weighty importance in the history of the Korean revolution.

“Sitting on the horseback atop Mt Paektu, [he] recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country, with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu.”

In 2017, Kim Jong-un visited the mountain a few weeks before his New Year’s address, where he hinted at a diplomatic thaw with South Korea.

The North Korean leader has reportedly climbed Mount Paektu at least three times, and made a joint visit to the mountain with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in 2018.

Kim Jong-un climbs Mount Paektu

KCNA previously released photos of Kim Jong-un atop the mountain, after apparently climbing it in black leather shoes.

Mount Paektu, an active volcano, is said to be the birthplace of Dangun, the founder of the first Korean kingdom more than 4,000 years ago.

The mountain is hundreds of kilometers from the capital Pyongyang, and sits right on the border between North Korea and China.

Earlier this month, North Korean officials held talks with US officials in Sweden, the first since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un met briefly at the DMZ in June.

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Two short-range ballistic missiles have been fired off North Korea’s east coast, according to South Korea’s military, the second such launch in a week.

They were launched from the Wonsan area on July 31.

Last week’s launch was the first such action since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in June.

North Korea called last week’s launch a “solemn warning” to Seoul over its planned military exercises with Washington.

Pyongyang has previously expressed anger that the annual drills will go ahead next month- an event it sees as preparation for war.

The missiles were launched at 05:06AM and 05:27 AM local time from the Kalma area near the port of Wonsan.

The missiles flew 155 miles and reached a height of 20 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The South Korean defense minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said the missiles were identified as a different type from previous models.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe confirmed that there was no impact on Japan’s security following the launch.

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North Korea: Kim Jong-un Oversees Short-Range Projectile Tests

Six days ago, North Korea fired two short range missiles, one of which travelled about 425 miles and the other 268 miles.

That launch was the first since President Trump and Kim Jong-un held an impromptu meeting in June at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to restarted denuclearization talks.

North Korea has recently again voiced anger over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event which the allies have refused to cancel but have scaled back significantly.

One analyst said more missile tests could be expected.

North Korea called the drills a “violation of the spirit” of the joint statement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un at their first face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.

Pyongyang had warned the exercises could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.

On July 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hoped these talks could start “very soon”, but that there were no further summits planned.

Last year, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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North Korea tested two new missiles on July 25, calling this action a “solemn warning” against what it described as “South Korean warmongers”.

The short-range missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, from Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said his country was forced to develop weapons to “eliminate potential and direct threats”.

Kim Jong-un said the test involved a new tactical guided weapons system.

His comments, reported in state media, come after North Korea criticized a decision by South Korea and the US to hold military drills next month.

North Korea has long regarded the drills as preparation for an invasion.

Though the US and South Korea have refused to cancel the annual military exercises, they have been scaled back significantly.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said one of the new missiles traveled about 420 miles. The US also confirmed that the missiles were “short-range”.

Kim Jong-un said he was “satisfied” with the new weapons system’s response and claimed it would “not be easy to defend against”.

The North Korean leader said that South Korea should “not make a mistake of ignoring the warning”.

South Korea has urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension and said the tests posed a military threat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed concerns about the launch, however, calling them a negotiating tactic.

He told Bloomberg Television: “Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side.

“We want diplomacy to work. If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it.”

The test is the first since Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump met at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, on June 30.

Donald Trump Becomes First US Sitting President to Cross into North Korea After Symbolic Meeting with Kim Jong-un at DMZ

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Oversees Short-Range Projectile Tests

The missile launch also comes after anger from North Korea over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. North Korea warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.

About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.

In 2018, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

North Korea also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week Kim Jong-un inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.

In May, Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.

President Trump responded then by saying he believed Kim Jong-un would not do anything that could jeopardize his country’s path towards better relations.

Donald Trump tweeted that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.

President Donald Trump has offered to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.

North Korea has described President Trump’s offer as a “very interesting suggestion”.

Donald Trump has arrived in South Korea to discuss the flagging North Korea denuclearization talks.

If Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were to see each other at the DMZ, it would be their third meeting in just over a year, and their first since a summit in Vietnam broke down in February.

President Trump tweeted: “After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”

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Trump-Kim Summit: Donald Trump Praises Historic Talks With North Korean Leader

Trump-Kim Summit Takes Place at Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island

President Trump – who is visiting South Korea after attending the G20 summit in Japan – conceded that the pair could see each other only “for two minutes”.

However, despite the apparent lack of any diplomatic preparation, some have suggested another face-to-face meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un could help reset relations and set the scene for future talks.

Only a few hours later, North Korea’s first vice-minister for foreign affairs, Choe Son Hui, said in statement: “We see it as a very interesting suggestion, but we have not received an official proposal in this regard.”

Such a meeting, the statement added, “would serve as another meaningful occasion in further deepening the personal relations between the two leaders and advancing the bilateral relations”.

It remains unclear whether officials with President Trump were briefed in advance about his overture to Kim Jong-un, and South Korea’s presidency said nothing was yet confirmed.

Last week, a South Korean official said Donald Trump was considering a trip to the DMZ, prompting speculation a meeting with Kim Jong-un could be possible.

President Trump attempted to make a surprise visit to the area in November 2017, but was forced to abandon the plans due to bad weather.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen a “strike drill” testing various missile components on May 4, state media has confirmed.

“A number of short-range projectiles” were also fired from the Hodo peninsula into the Sea of Japan, the state media said.

Kim Jong-un gave the order of firing to “increase the combat ability” of North Korea, the announcement said.

President Donald Trump tweeted he believed Kim Jong-un would not jeopardize the path towards better relations.

He added that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!

President Trump tweeted on May 4: “Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong-Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it.”

Donald Trump walked away from what he described as a bad deal offered by the North Korean at a summit meeting in Hanoi in February.

North Korea Preparing to Launch Missile or Satellite from Sanumdong Site

In its report on May 5, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim Jing-un had stressed the need to “defend the political sovereignty and economic self-sustenance” of North Korea in the face of threat and invasion.

The aim of the drill, which was testing “large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers”, was to “inspect the operating ability and the accuracy of striking duty performance,” the report said.

Kim Jong-un told troops to bear in mind “the iron truth that genuine peace and security are ensured and guaranteed only by powerful strength”.

It is believed that latest test is intended to increase pressure on Washington to move nuclear talks forward.

Last month, North Korea said it had tested what it described as a new “tactical guided weapon”.

That was the first test since the Hanoi summit.

Analysts say a short-range solid fuel ballistic missile was fired on May 4, making this the most serious test since North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

However, the test does not violate North Korea’s promise not to test long-range or nuclear missiles.

North Korea has labeled a break-in at its Madrid embassy last month as a “grave terrorist attack”.

In its first official comment, the North Korean government called for an investigation and said it was closely watching rumors that the FBI had played a role.

On March 27, the Cheollima Civil Defense (CDC), a group committed to ousting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said it carried out the raid.

The group took computers and data and said it gave its evidence to the FBI.

At least two international arrest warrants have been issued for the main suspects.

Spanish authorities say one suspect, named as Adrian Hong Chang, gained access by asking to see the commercial attaché, whom he claimed to have met previously to discuss business matters. His accomplices burst in once he was inside.

The CDC is accused of interrogating the attaché and trying to persuade him to defect. When he refused, they left him tied up in the basement.

Two other members of the break-in group were named as US citizen Sam Ryu, and a South Korean, Woo Ran Lee.

Embassy staff were held hostage for several hours. One woman managed to flee, escaping through a window and screaming for help. Concerned neighbors quickly called the police.

When officers arrived, they were greeted by Adrian Hong Chang, posing as a North Korean diplomat in a jacket with a Kim Jong-un lapel badge.

He told the police that all was well, and nothing had happened.

Most of the group later fled the embassy in three North Korean diplomatic vehicles. Adrian Hong Chang and some others left later via the back entrance using another vehicle.

They split up into four groups and headed to Portugal. Adrian Hong Chang – a Mexican citizen who lives in the US – allegedly contacted the FBI to give his version of events five days later.

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North Korea: Former Spy Chief Kim Yong-chol Travels to US for Talks

CDC, also known as Free Joseon, is committed to overthrowing North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty.

A video posted on the group’s website and YouTube page purports to show one of the intruders smashing portraits of North Korea’s leaders inside the Madrid embassy.

The Cheollima Civil Defense first came to prominence after taking credit for getting Kim Jong-un’s nephew, Kim Han-sol, safely out of Macau after the assassination of his father.

Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother, was murdered at an airport in Malaysia in 2017.

Kim Han-sol has expressed his desire to go back to North Korea, and has referred to his uncle as a “dictator”.

Sources close to the investigation reportedly told Spanish newspaper El País that the operation was planned perfectly, as if by a “military cell”.

According to El País and El Confidencial, the attackers seemed to know what they were looking for. Spanish authorities suspect US intelligence agencies and their allies could have been involved in the attack.

El País even reports that two of the group have links to the CIA.

The US has denied any involvement in the raid.

Reports say the attackers could have been looking for information on North Korea’s former ambassador to Madrid, Kim Hyok-chol, who was expelled from Spain in September 2017 over North Korea’s nuclear testing program.

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According to recent reports, North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile or a satellite.

Satellite images suggest an increased activity around a site known as Sanumdong, where North Korea assembled most of its ballistic missiles and rockets.

It comes after reports earlier this week that North Korea’s main rocket launch site at Sohae had been rebuilt.

Last year, North Korea started to dismantle Sohae began but stopped as US talks stalled.

On March 8, President Donald Trump said he would be disappointed if North Korea was to resume weapons testing.

He said: “I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens.

“I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”

According to analysts, it is more likely at this stage that North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite rather than test a missile.

However, the US said earlier this week that this would still be inconsistent with the commitments Kim Jong-un has made to President Trump.

Large vehicles have been seen moving around Sanumdong, activity which has in the past indicated that Pyongyang was at least preparing to move some kind of missile or rocket to a launch area.

The satellite images were published by the public radio network NPR.

A much anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last week ended without a deal over differences in how much North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program before it was granted some sanction relief.

The Sohae launch facility at the Tongchang-ri site has been used for satellite launches and engine testing but never for ballistic missile launches.

This week’s satellite images, coming from several US think tanks and testimony from the South Korean intelligence service, appear to show rapid progress has been made in rebuilding structures on the rocket launch pad.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said North Korea could yet face more sanctions if there is no progress on denuclearization.

A historic first meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018 in Singapore produced a vaguely worded agreement on “denuclearization” but little progress.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, ahead of his second summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Air Force One landed at Noi Bai airport hours after Kim Jon-un reached Hanoi by train and car.

The summit, which is due to take place between February 27 and 28, follows a historic first round of talks in Singapore in 2018.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are expected to discuss progress towards ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Ceremonial guards had lined a red carpet laid out for Kim Jong-un as he arrived at Dong Dang border station on February 26. He was then driven to Hanoi, where heavy security and flag-waving crowds were waiting for him.

Kim Jong-un is thought to be travelling with his sister Kim Yo-jong and one of his key negotiators, former General Kim Yong-chol, both familiar faces from the previous summit with PresidentTrump.

The journey from Pyongyang to Hanoi took more than two days and traversed about 2,500 miles.

As Kim Jong-un’s train passed through China, roads were closed and train stations shut down. Chinese social media was abuzz with road closures, traffic congestion and delayed trains.

Vietnam’s Dong Dang station was also closed to the public ahead of his arrival.

Kim Jong-un is now being driven around 100 miles to Hanoi by car.

The North Korean leader chose to take the train as this is how his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, travelled when he went to Vietnam and Eastern Europe.

Kim Jong-un’s private green and yellow train has 21 bulletproof carriages and is luxurious, with plush pink leather sofas and conference rooms so the journey would not have been uncomfortable.

Air Force One left Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, landing in Hanoi on Tuesday night local time.

Details of their schedule are only just becoming clear. President Trump will meet Kim Jong-un for a brief one-on-one conversation on February 27 and then they will have dinner together with their advisers, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. On February 28, the leaders will meet for a series of back-and-forth meetings.

The Hanoi meeting is expected to build on the groundwork of what was achieved at the Singapore summit in June 2018.

Trump-Kim Summit: Donald Trump Praises Historic Talks With North Korean Leader

Trump-Kim Summit Takes Place at Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island

The first summit produced a vaguely worded agreement, with both leaders agreeing to work towards denuclearization – though it was never made clear what this would entail.

However, little diplomatic progress was made following that meeting.

This time round, both leaders will be very conscious that expectations will be high for an outcome that demonstrates tangible signs of progress.

However, President Trump appeared to be managing expectations ahead of the summit, saying he was in “no rush” to press for North Korea’s denuclearization.

He said: “I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.”

Vietnam has been chosen for many reasons. It has diplomatic relations with both the US and North Korea, despite once having been enemies with the US – and could be used by the US as an example of two countries working together and setting aside their past grievances.

Ideologically, both Vietnam and North Korea are communist countries – though Vietnam has rapidly developed since and become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, all while the party there retains absolute power.

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Photo AP

President Donald Trump asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call off a planned trip to North Korea.

The president tweeted that insufficient progress was being made in dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.

President Trump also suggested China was not doing enough to put pressure on North Korea – due to trade tensions with the US.

After his summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June, Donald Trump said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat.

However, since then there have been several reports that it is failing to dismantle nuclear facilities.

The UN’s nuclear agency (IAEA) has also said North Korea is continuing with its nuclear program.

Mike Pompeo was due to head to Pyongyang next week with his newly appointed special envoy for North Korea – Stephen Biegun, a retiring Ford executive.

It would have been the secretary of state’s fourth trip, though he was not expected to meet Kim Jong-un.

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President Trump took a swipe at China in the second of three tweets on the issue.

He tweeted: “…Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)…”

China and the US are embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war after President Trump complained about the size of the US trade deficit with China and what Washington sees as other unfair trade practices.

However, only two days ago President Trump said China had been a “big help on North Korea”.

Mike Pompeo might still make another trip though.

President Trump tweeted: “…Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!”

After the optimism of Singapore, the latest development might seem like quite a change.

However, there have been ups and downs in the Trump-North Korea relationship since then.

After a visit by Mike Pompeo in July, North Korea condemned his “gangster-like demands”, only for another trip to be announced, albeit now cancelled.

The summit itself was called off in May – President Trump citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility” – only for it to take place after all.

The US has made clear that it wants to see an end to North Korea’s nuclear activities before it will consider lifting economic sanctions.

The summit was seen as possible turning point after a ratcheting up of tensions.

North Korea had carried out a sixth nuclear bomb test in September and boasted of its ability to launch a missile at the US.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is visiting China for two days, just a week after meeting President Donald Trump.

Kim Jong-un will most probably discuss sanctions and the commitment he made at the summit, in general terms, to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

China, North Korea’s only economic ally, has already suggested sanctions against North Korea could be eased.

Meanwhile, South Korea and the US have confirmed they have suspended planning for their next joint military drills.

That follows a pledge made by President Trump at the Singapore summit.

Image source Wikimedia

Trump-Kim Summit: Donald Trump Praises Historic Talks With North Korean Leader

Trump-Kim Summit To Take Place at Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island

The visit to China is Kim Jong-un’s third since March, when his first trip abroad since taking office was to meet President Xi Jinping.

Kim Jong-un’s latest visit was, unusually, reported by Chinese state media. However, it gave no details on the agenda.

On June 12, President Trump and Kim Jong-un signed what the US president called a “comprehensive” agreement.

North Korea agreed to denuclearization – something it had also committed to in talks with the South – while President Trump said the US would end its joint military exercises with South Korea.

Ending the war games had been a long-standing demand by both North Korea and China.

However, both South Korea and Japan – the US’s other main ally in Asia – said the joint drills were very important.

President Trump’s announcement appeared to catch South Korea off guard and there was confusion how it would be implemented.

There was also confusion over President Trump calling the drills “provocative”, a term hitherto used by North Korea to describe them. The US had always insisted they are purely defensive in nature.

There are about 29,000 US soldiers based in the South and each year the US and South Korea regularly conduct large scale military drills.

The next military drill was scheduled for August with some 17,500 US military personnel due to take part.

President Donald Trump has praised his historic talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that ended in a joint agreement were “tremendous”.

The agreement includes a pledge from Kim Jong-un to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

However, in an extraordinary media conference later, President Trump announced details not in the paper.

The American president said he would halt US military exercises in South Korea, something widely seen as a concession.

The Singapore meeting was the first time a sitting US president has met North Korea’s leader, and caps a remarkable turnaround for the two.

For both leaders the meeting brought much to gain as well as considerable risk.

The meeting is seen by North Korea as a way of bringing legitimacy to a nation long regarded as a pariah.

The summit centered on nuclear disarmament and reducing tensions.

The agreement said the US and North Korea would co-operate towards “new relations”, while the US would provide “security guarantees” to North Korea.

On nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-un “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.

Observers say the document lacks substance, in particular on how denuclearization would be achieved.

Photo AP

Trump-Kim Summit To Take Place at Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island

Speaking to reporters, President Donald Trump revealed:

  • The US would suspend “provocative” drills it holds with South Korea. He wanted to see US troops withdraw from South Korea. A spokesperson for the US forces said they had yet to receive any new guidance
  • On denuclearization, Kim Jong-un had agreed to it being “verified”, a key US demand ahead of the meeting
  • they had also agreed to destroy a “major missile engine testing site”
  • however, sanctions would remain in place for now and argued “we haven’t given up anything”.

Several reporters asked whether President Trump had raised the issue of human rights with Kim Jong-un, who runs a totalitarian regime with extreme censorship and forced-labor camps.

President Trump said he had, and did not retract his description of Kim Jong-un as “talented”.

He said: “Well, he is very talented.

“Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I don’t say he was nice.”

In a post-summit interview with ABC News, President Trump said he was confident that the agreement meant full denuclearization.

“Yeah, he’s de-nuking, I mean he’s de-nuking the whole place. It’s going to start very quickly. I think he’s going to start now,” he said.

“I think he trusts me and I trust him,” the president added.

Sitting alongside each other, ahead of a one-on-one meeting, President Trump and Kim Jong-un appeared relaxed against the odds.

Kim Jong-un said: “It was not easy to get here.

“There were obstacles but we overcame them to be here.”

The two leaders, accompanied only by interpreters, spoke for a little under 40 minutes. They were then joined by small delegations of advisers for a working lunch.

Over lunch Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un shared a mix of Western and Korean dishes, including stuffed cucumbers and Daegu jorim, a soy-braised fish dish.

President Donald Trump has announced his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12 is back on, a week after it was scrapped.

The president made the announcement after talks with senior North Korean envoy Kim Yong-chol at the White House.

General Kim Yong-chol hand-delivered a letter from Kim Jong-un to President Trump.

President Trump at first said the letter was “very interesting” but later said he had not yet opened it.

He also said the issue of formally ending the Korean War would be on the table in Singapore.

The 1950-1953 war only ended with a truce, not a final peace treaty.

Photo AP

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President Donald Trump Pulls Out of Upcoming North Korea Summit

North Korea Destroyed Punggye-ri Nuclear Tunnels

President Trump told reporters on the White House lawn: “We’ll be meeting on June 12th in Singapore. It went very well.”

“We’ve got to know their people very well,” he added.

President Trump cautioned that the summit might not achieve a final deal on North Korea’s controversial nuclear program.

“I never said it goes in one meeting. I think it’s going to be a process, but the relationships are building and that’s very positive,” President Trump said.

The historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un would be the first between sitting US and North Korean leaders. President Trump has offered to help rebuild North Korea’s economy if it scraps its nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un says he is committed to “denuclearization” in some form but his precise demands are unclear.

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General Kim Yong-chol, one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s most senior officials, is thought to be travelling to the US, as preparations for a possible summit gather pace.

South Korean news agency Yonhap said Kim Yong-chol was due to arrive in the US on May 30, via Beijing.

His trip to the US could be part of preparation for a proposed meeting between the North Korean leader and President Donald Trump.

The summit was thrown into doubt after President Trump pulled out last week.

However, both sides have been working to get the summit – scheduled for June 12 in Singapore – back on track.

It would be the first time a North Korean leader has met a sitting US president.

Photo AP

President Donald Trump Pulls Out of Upcoming North Korea Summit

North Korea Destroyed Punggye-ri Nuclear Tunnels

Kim Yong-chol was scheduled to fly to New York on May 30, after speaking with Chinese officials in Beijing, Yonhap reported, citing diplomatic sources.

The former spy chief would be the most high-profile North Korean official to visit the US since 2000.

The apparent introduction of Kim Yong-chol to negotiations would be significant, as it would underline North Korea’s desire to ensure the talks go ahead.

He has been part of recent high-profile diplomatic overtures by North Korea.

Kim Yong-chol, 72, is a controversial figure in neighboring South Korea, and previously served as a negotiator in inter-Korean talks.

During his time as a military intelligence head, Kim Yong-chol was accused of being behind attacks on South Korean targets, including the torpedoing of a South Korea warship which killed 46 seamen, as well as the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.

As a result of these incidents, the US imposed personal sanctions on him in 2010 and 2015.

Despite reportedly being punished for an “overbearing attitude” in 2016, Kim Yong-chol has continued to hold senior posts in the army and party, and was the head of North Korea’s delegation to the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

He is regularly seen at Kim Jongg-un’s side and has attended meetings with the leaders of China and South Korea, and met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang.

In February, Kim Yong-chol was sent to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he sat close to President Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump.

President Donald Trump has announced he is canceling a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying the world had “lost a great opportunity for lasting peace”.

The American leader said his decision was because of “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent North Korean statement.

The summit aimed at ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons and would have been the first time a sitting US president met a North Korean leader.

However, both sides have recently cast doubt on whether the talks would happen.

President Trump’s announcement came just hours after North Korea said it had dismantled tunnels at its only nuclear test site in a move witnessed by foreign reporters.

He said he had been looking forward to the now-canceled summit in Singapore on June 12.

Photo AP

North Korea Destroyed Punggye-ri Nuclear Tunnels

President Trump said: “I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have the long-planned meeting.”

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” he added.

The president called the meeting a “missed opportunity”, saying “someday, I look very much forward to meeting you”.

President Trump was apparently responding to statements from North Korea attacking his administration and casting doubt over the meeting.

Earlier today, North Korean official Choe Son-hui dismissed remarks by US Vice-President Mike Pence – who had said North Korea “may end like Libya” – as “stupid”.

Choe Son-hui, who has been involved in several diplomatic interactions with the US over the past decade, said North Korea would not “beg” for dialogue and warned of a “nuclear showdown” if diplomacy failed.

A White House official quoted by Reuters described the comments about Mike Pence as the “last straw”. They stressed, however, there was a “backdoor that’s open still”.

References to Libya have angered North Korea. There, former leader Colonel Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program only for him to be killed by Western-backed rebels a few years later.

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North Korea has threatened to pull out of a summit with President Donald Trump if the US insists it gives up its nuclear weapons.

The highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is due to take place on June 12.

However, in an angry statement, North Korea’s vice-foreign minister accused the US of making reckless statements and of harboring sinister intentions.

Kim Kye-gwan pointed the finger squarely at US National Security Adviser John Bolton.

He said: “We do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him.”

The groundbreaking agreement for Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump to meet came about as North Korea said it was committed to denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

Photo AP

President Trump Welcomes Three American Detainees Freed by North Korea

Donald Trump to Meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12

Exactly what that would entail has remained unclear, but North Korea has invited foreign media to witness the dismantling of its main nuclear test site later this month.

John Bolton recently said North Korea could follow a “Libya model” of verifiable denuclearization, but this alarms Pyongyang, which watched Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi give up his nuclear program only for him to be killed by Western-backed rebels a few years later.

Kim Kye-gwan’s statement, carried by North Korea’s state media, said that if the US “corners us and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons we will no longer have an interest in talks” and “will have to reconsider” attending the June 12 summit in Singapore.

The official said North Korea did have “high hopes” but that it was “very unfortunate that the US is provoking us ahead of the summit by spitting out ludicrous statements”.

He is known to be highly respected in the North Korean leadership and has taken part in negotiations with the US before. There is very little chance Kim Kye-gwan;s comments were not personally endorsed by Kim Jong-un.

Hours before the announcement, in a sign of growing problems, Pyongyang has also pulled out of a meeting scheduled with South Korea on May 16 because of anger over the start of US-South Korean joint military drills.

Pyonyang had earlier said it would allow them to go ahead, but then called them “a provocative military ruckus” which was undermining its diplomatic efforts.

The sudden change in tone from North Korea is said to have taken US officials by surprise. Analysts said Pyongyang could be trying to strengthen its hand before talks.

The US state department said it was continuing to plan the Trump-Kim meeting, and President Trump is yet to comment.

President Donald Trump has announced he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on 12 June.

The president tweeted: “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”

Two months ago, President Trump stunned the world by accepting an invitation to meet Kim Jong-un for an unprecedented sit-down.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had previously exchanged insults and threats. The breakthrough came after landmark talks between North Korea and South Korea.

The president’s announcement came hours after he welcomed home three American detainees released by North Korea.

Their release came during a visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to arrange details of the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Photo AP

President Trump Welcomes Three American Detainees Freed by North Korea

Mike Pompeo Makes Second Visit to North Korea Ahead of Trump-Kim Summit

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

No sitting US president has ever met a North Korean leader.

According to the White House, the American citizens detained in North Korea were freed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the summit, which President Trump earlier said he thought would be a “big success”.

The key issue expected to be discussed is North Korea’s nuclear weapons program – over which Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un furiously sparred in 2017.

North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests since 2006, despite international condemnation and sanctions, saying it needs the weapons for its own security.

The US wants North Korea to give up its weapons program completely and irreversibly.

Ahead of the meeting, Kim Jong-un has pledged to stop nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, and also to shut down a nuclear test site.

However, analysts caution that Kim Jong-un is unlikely to easily abandon nuclear weapons that he has pushed so hard to obtain, and that “denuclearization” means something quite different to both sides.

The US and Singapore have a close relationship. Singapore has diplomatic ties with North Korea but suspended all trade with the country in November 2017 as international sanctions were tightened.

Other locations which had been considered for the Trump-Kim summit included Mongolia and the Korean border’s demilitarized zone (DMZ).

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Three American detainees, who were released by North Korea earlier, have been welcomed home by President Trump.

President Trump said it was a “special night for these really great people” as they arrived at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

According to the White House, Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had been freed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the planned meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

President Trump said he thought the summit would be “a big success”.

The date and location have been decided but not yet announced.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump entered the plane after it landed at about 02:45 local time and a few minutes later emerged with the three men to wave to the media.

The president said he appreciated that Kim Jong-un had allowed the men to leave as “frankly we didn’t think that was going to happen before the meeting”.

Photo AP

Mike Pompeo Makes Second Visit to North Korea Ahead of Trump-Kim Summit

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

Asked if this was his proudest achievement, President Trump said that would be “when we denuclearize that entire peninsula”.

He said: “It’s a great honor. But the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.”

Of the upcoming summit, President Trump said: “I think that we’re going to have… a very big success… I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful.”

He said he hoped he could travel to North Korea one day and that he believed Kim Jong-un wanted to bring his country “into the real world”.

The three men were smiling and waving and appeared in good health.

In an impromptu chat before the media with President Trump, Kim Dong-chul said: “It’s like a dream and we are very, very happy. We were treated in many different ways. For me, I had to do a lot of labor. But when I got sick I was also treated by them.”

Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had released an earlier statement saying: “We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo and the people of the United States for bringing us home.

“We thank God and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return.”

The three men had been jailed for anti-state activities and placed in labor camps.

Their release came during a visit to North Korea by Mike Pompeo to arrange details of the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

According to the North Korean state news agency KCNA, Kim Jong-un said he had accepted a US proposal to grant the three detainees an amnesty, adding that his meeting with President Trump would be an “excellent first step” towards improving the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is making a second surprise visit to North Korea, with speculation growing that he will bring home three jailed Americans.

His visit is intended to lay the groundwork for a historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump.

Mike Pompeo told reporters he was hoping to finalize plans for talks, which are likely to focus on denuclearization.

However, the release of the detainees is a central issue for the Americans.

A South Korean presidential official told news agency Yonhap that North Korea was expected to release the US citizens as a “goodwill gesture”.

Mike Pompeo said he hoped Pyongyang would “do the right thing” and release three Americans imprisoned in North Korea.

He said: “We’ve been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months.”

Image source Wikimedia

Mike Pompeo Confirmed as Secretary of State

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

North Korea has historically used its foreign prisoners as leverage in its diplomatic dealings.

One of the detainees was jailed in 2015, the other two have been in prison for just over a year. Their convictions have been widely condemned as political and an abuse of human rights.

The last American to be freed – Otto Warmbier, who was jailed for stealing a hotel sign – was released last year but was fatally ill, and died shortly after returning home. The cause of death remains unexplained.

Mike Pompeo said a “good relationship” was formed at the first meeting in April, which marked the highest level US contact with North Korea since 2000.

A state department official travelling with Mike Pompeo said the US would also be “listening for signs from North Korea that things have substantially changed” with the nation’s nuclear ambitions.

Last month, President Trump stunned the international community by accepting North Korea’s suggestion for direct talks – it will be an unprecedented move for a sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.

President Trump referred to Mike Pompeo’s latest visit while announcing that the US was withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The South Korean president’s office has announced that North Korea’s nuclear test site will close in May.

Presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said the closure of the Punggye-ri site would be done in public and foreign experts from South Korea and the US would be invited to watch.

According to scientists, the nuclear site may have partially collapsed in September.

On April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to work to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Their summit came after months of warlike rhetoric from North Korea.

On April 28, President Donald Trump said he would like to hold talks with Kim Jong-un “over the next three or four weeks” about the denuclearization of the peninsula.

Image source CNN

Kim Jong-un Becomes First North Korean Leader to Set Foot in South Korea

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Hosting Dinner for Two South Korean Delegates

President Moon Jae-in’s spokesman said that Kim Jong-un had stated he “would carry out the closing of the nuclear test site in May”.

Yoon Young-chan added that the North Korean leader had also said he “would soon invite experts of South Korea and the US to disclose the process to the international community with transparency”.

President Moon Jae-in’s office also said North Korea would change its time zone – currently half an hour different – to match that of South Korea.

North Korea has so far made no public comments on the issue.

Situated in mountainous terrain in the north-east, the Punggye-ri site is thought to be North Korea’s main nuclear facility.

The nuclear tests have taken place in a system of tunnels dug below Mount Mantap, near the Punggye-ri site.

Six nuclear tests have been carried out there since 2006.

After the last nuclear test, in September 2017, a series of aftershocks hit the site, which seismologists believe collapsed part of the mountain’s interior.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency Kim Jong-un made an apparent reference to these reports, saying: “Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that they are in good condition.”

The information about the Punggye-ri site has been gathered mainly from satellite imagery and tracking the movement of equipment at the location.

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Kim Jong-un has become the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

In a moment rich with symbolism and pomp, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un shook hands at the border.

Kim Jong-un said it was the “starting point” for peace, after crossing the military line that divides the peninsula. He also pledged a “new history” in relations with his neighbor.

His visit comes just months after warlike rhetoric from North Korea.

Much of what the summit will focus on has been agreed in advance, but many analysts remain skeptical about North Korea’s apparent enthusiasm for engagement.

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in were met on April 27 by an honor guard in traditional costume on the South Korean side. The leaders walked to the Peace House in Panmunjom, a military compound in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries.

The North Korean leader then invited the South Korean president to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the pair stepped back into South Korea – all the while holding hands.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Hosting Dinner for Two South Korean Delegates

It was an apparently unscripted moment during a highly choreographed sequence of events.

When the first session ended, the pair separated for lunch and Kim Jong-un returned to North Korea in a heavily guarded black limousine.

When he returned in the afternoon, the leaders took part in a ceremony consisting of the planting of a pine tree using soil and water from both countries.

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in shoveled soil on the roots of the tree and unveiled a stone marker featuring their names, official titles and a message that read: “Planting peace and prosperity.”

The Korean summit will conclude with the leaders signing an agreement and delivering a joint statement before dinner. The banquet will be held on South Korea’s side and the menu is as symbolic as the other rituals.

According to local sources, Kim Jong-un will serve Swiss potato dish rosti – a nod to his time studying in Switzerland – along with North Korea’s signature dish of cold noodles, and North Korean liquor.

Kim Jong-un is accompanied by nine officials, including his powerful and influential sister Kim Yo-jong.

The Korean meeting – the first between Korean leaders in more than a decade – is seen as a step toward possible peace on the peninsula and marks the first summit of its kind for Kim Jong-un.

The summit carries promise for both Koreas with topics being discussed ranging from nuclear technology and sanctions to separated families, and is seen as an opportunity to foster economic co-operation.

Ahead of talks with President Moon at the Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom, Kim Jong-un said: “I feel that [we] have fired a flare at the starting point… the moment of writing a new history vis-à-vis peace, prosperity and North-South relations.”

He also wrote in a guestbook: “A new history begins now.”

The White House has expressed hope that the talks will achieve progress towards peace ahead a proposed meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in the coming weeks – an unprecedented move.

Talks are likely to focus on reaching an agreement on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which has advanced significantly since the last summit more than a decade ago.

South Korea has warned that a deal to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons will be “difficult” to achieve.

Kim Jong-un announced last week that he was suspending nuclear tests.

The move was welcomed by the US and South Korea, although Chinese experts have indicated that North Korea’s nuclear test may be unusable after a rock collapse following its last nuclear test.

As well as addressing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in are expected to discuss a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, as well as economic and social issues.

According to new reports, CIA director Mike Pompeo travelled to North Korea for a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un.

The meeting to prepare for direct talks between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader took place over Easter weekend, unnamed officials said.

President Trump had earlier alluded to high-level direct talks with North Korea.

However, this unexpected and clandestine meeting would mark the highest level US contact with North Korea since 2000.

President Trump said from Florida, where he is hosting Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe: “We have had direct talks at… extremely high levels.”

He added that he gave his “blessing” for talks between South Korea and North Korea to discuss a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

South Korea has also signaled that it may pursue a formal resolution of the conflict. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un are scheduled to meet at the end of April.

The news that President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state had travelled to Pyongyang for a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un was first reported by The Washington Post.

Very little is known about the talks other than that they were to prepare for the upcoming Trump-Kim summit.

According to The Washington Post, the meeting took place soon after Mike Pompeo was nominated as secretary of state and is attributed to two anonymous sources “with direct knowledge of the trip”.

Later the Reuters said the report had been confirmed to them by senior officials.

The White House has not commented.

The US does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, although diplomats have visited in the past and there are some so-called “back channels” used to communicate with Pyongyang.

Image source Wikimedia

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

Mike Pompeo’s trip was the highest level meeting with a North Korean leader since 2000 when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, in Pyongyang.

In 2014, the then-head of National Intelligence James Clapper visited North Korea in a secret mission to negotiate the release of two US citizens. James Clapper did not meet Kim Jong-un during his trip.

President Trump stunned the international community last month by accepting North Korea’s suggestion for direct talks. It would be unprecedented for a sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.

Donald Trump said the summit would take place either in early June or “a little before that” and that several sites were under consideration but that none of them were in the US.

Analysts have speculated that a location for talks could be the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea, Beijing, another Asian country, Europe or even a vessel in international waters.

North Korea has been isolated for decades because of its well-documented human rights abuses and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, in defiance of international laws and UN sanctions.

Pyongyang has carried out six nuclear tests, and has missiles that could reach the US.

However, South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in February gave an unexpected window for diplomacy and in the weeks since there have been a flurry of visits to North Korea from China, South Korea and now the US.

President Trump’s estimate that a meeting could take place in June or earlier appears to be one the administration is taking seriously.

However, news of Mike Pompeo’s visit is also likely to overshadow the other key diplomatic balancing act under way, which is the important relationship with Japan, a key US ally and neighbor of North Korea.

There have been fears in Tokyo that President Trump’s plans for bilateral talks could sideline Japan and Shinzo Abe is currently in Washington for talks with the US leader.

Relations between the two men appeared cordial on this, the second time that President Trump has welcomed Shinzo Abe to his Mar-a-Lago resort.

On April 17, President Trump insisted that the two countries were “very unified on the subject of North Korea”, and PM Shinzo Abe praised the president’s handling of the North Korea issue.

However, observers say Shinzo Abe’s goal for his US trip will be to persuade President Trump as much as he can not to sway from the West’s hard line on North Korea.

PM Shinzo Abe has repeatedly sought to portray a close personal relationship with President Trump and was the first foreign leader to meet him in New York after his election victory in 2016.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are to meet in person by May, South Korean officials confirmed after talks with the president at the White House.

The South Koreans passed a verbal message from Kim Jong-un, saying the North Korean leader was “committed to denuclearization”.

President Trump hailed “great progress” but said sanctions would remain in place.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the news “came like a miracle”.

He said: “If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet following an inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest.”

Photo AP

Donald Trump’s Tweet Calls Kim Jong-un Short and Fat

Donald Trump Responds to Kim Jong-un’s Nuclear Button Threaten

China has welcomed the development, saying the Korean peninsula issue was “heading in the right direction” and calling for “political courage”.

However, North Korea has halted missile and nuclear tests during previous talks, only to resume them when it lost patience or felt it was not getting what it demanded.

The latest announcement came days after the South Korean delegation met Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.

Speaking outside the White House after briefing President Trump, South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong said he had passed on a message that Kim Jong-un was “committed to denuclearization” and had “pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests”.

According to a statement sent to the Washington Post, North Korea’s UN ambassador said the “courageous decision” of Kim Jong-un would help secure “peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region”.

There is no indication yet of where the Trump-Kim talks might take place, but the Korean border’s demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Beijing are seen as likely options.

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Kim Jong-un is hosting a dinner for two South Korean delegates, the first time officials from Seoul have met the North Korean leader since he took office in 2011, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The dinner has been confirmed by a South Korean presidential spokesman.

The South Korean delegation is in Pyongyang for rare talks partly aimed at restarting dialogue between North Korea and the US.

Relations between North Korea and South Korea have warmed following the PyeongChang Winter Games.

In an unprecedented move the delegation includes two ministerial-level envoys – intelligence chief Suh Hoon and National Security adviser Chung Eui-yong.

According to the North Korean state radio, the delegation was met by Ri Son-gwon, North Korea’s reunification chief, who led talks in the weeks before the Winter Olympics.

North Korea Canceled Meeting with VP Mike Pence at Winter Olympics

PyeongChang 2018: South Korean and North Korean Athletes Under Same Flag During Opening Ceremony

During the two-day visit, the South Korean group will focus on establishing conditions for talks aimed at getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons as well as dialogue between the US and Pyongyang.

Chung Eui-yong had earlier told a press briefing he would deliver President Moon Jae-in’s “resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North… [and] to denuclearize the Korean peninsula”.

On March 3, President Donald Trump said that the US would be prepared to meet North Korea, but reiterated that Pyongyang would first have to “denuke”.

However, North Korea – which has said it wants to talk to the US – said it was “preposterous” for the US to insist on preconditions.

It’s remains unclear who would represent the US in any such meeting.

The top US diplomat on North Korea Joseph Yun announced his decision to retire earlier last week, a departure which could hamper the Trump administration.

The relationship between the US and North Korea were particularly tense before the Winter Olympics, with both countries repeatedly threatening each other with total destruction.

The US has distanced itself from the North Korean overtures during the Games.

VP Mike Pence has said there is “no daylight” between the US and its regional allies on the need to “continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program.