Diplomacy heats up ahead of potential North Korea summit

North Korea-US summit on track, says Moon, after candid talks with 'friend' Kim Jong-un

South Korea said President Moon Jae-in met with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un on May 26 inside the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two nations, a day after US President Donald Trump threatened to abandon a summit with Pyongyang.

Sung Kim, the United States ambassador to the Philippines, also served as ambassador to South Korea and was part of the USA negotiating team that last held substantive denuclearisation talks with North Korea during the George W Bush administration in 2005.

Moon and Kim held a historic summit in April where they announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free peninsula and permanent peace, which Seoul has tried to sell as a meaningful breakthrough to set up the summit with Trump.

"We both agreed the June 12 North Korea-US summit must be successfully held", Yonhap News Agency quoted Moon as saying here. "Solid response to my letter, thank you!"

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to meet ahead of a potential June 12 U.S.

Surprised Singaporeans pursued North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday before realising the portly man with slick black hair near the Marina Bay Sands hotel was an impersonator.

The North Korea Leadership Watch website described Kim Yong Chol as sarcastic, hard to work with, and somewhat independent because it said he is "not properly deferential to his superiors".

He appeared at the Beijing airport Wednesday, and South Korean-based Yonhap News agency cited diplomatic sources as saying that Kim was on an Air China flight to NY that departed later in the day. He used the restricted VIP entrance, according to AFP journalists.

"We're still finalising exactly what these meetings will look like", she said.

The trip is part of a flurry of diplomacy before the on-again, off-again summit. Since then, meeting to prepare for the talks have resumed.

Sanders also said Trump will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on June 7 and the two will discuss the potential meeting and a US delegation is meeting with the North Korean delegation at the DMZ.

"They plan to have additional meetings this week", Sanders said.

Kim Yong Chol, the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the US since 2000, was flying to NY on Wednesday. And on a third track was a White House logistical group sent to Singapore on Sunday to prepare in case the summit takes place.

The general is a notorious figure in South Korea, where he is accused of masterminding the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan navy corvette, which killed 46 sailors, an attack for which North Korea denies responsibility.

In a statement last week, North Korea rejected the "so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, ' 'total decommissioning of nuclear weapons, missiles and biochemical weapons" etc".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) will meet in NY this week General Kim Yong-chol amid intensifying US-North Korean summit preparations, the White House says.

It allowed Mr Moon to push for a US-North Korean summit that he sees as the best way to ease animosity that had some fearing a war previous year. "In some ways, Kim Jong Un may have met his match here with our very unconventional president".

The key task is to settle the agenda. Rather, the North Koreans are angry because Trump is not budging from his demand, when what they want are front-loaded economic benefits in exchange for promises of "mutual" and "synchronous" arms reductions.

North Korea has faced years of isolation and economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.

Moon said the Pyongyang regime reaffirmed its commitment to give up its nuclear weapons but had its own security concerns if it took that step.

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