‘Back-channel’ talks ongoing for Trump-Kim summit, says Korean envoy

10-Jan-2019 Intellasia | The Telegraph | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The United States and North Korea are forging ahead with “back-channel” talks to arrange a second summit between Donald Trump, the US president, and Kim Jong-un, South Korea’s ambassador to Washington said on Tuesday.

“It appears to me that back-channel communication for a North Korea-US summit is ongoing,” Ambassador Cho Yoon-je briefed reporters, according to newswire Yonhap.

He did not elaborate on the details but added: “President Trump and Chair Kim have a firm will, so I’m hopeful that a preparatory meeting (for the summit) will be held in the near future.”

Kim’s unannounced visit to Beijing this week for talks with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, has prompted speculation that his next meeting with Trump could be imminent.

U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.(UPI)

U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un’s closest aides, on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.(UPI)

The North Korean leader consulted closely with Xi before and after the historic Singapore summit.

South Korea on Tuesday said it hoped that his latest trip to Beijing this week would act as a “stepping stone” for face-to-face talks with the US president, with the aim of overcoming an ongoing stalemate over nuclear disarmament.

Kim and Trump agreed in Singapore to move towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, but the two sides have since hit an impasse over what the vague declaration means in practice.

However, the South Korean ambassador’s comments suggest that important back-channel work has not been halted by the lack of visible progress in handling Kim’s nuclear weapons programme.

Earlier this week South Korea’s Munhwa Ilbo reported that US officials met with their North Korean counterparts in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, for summit scheduling discussions.

Vietnam is a long-standing ally of Pyongyang that also enjoys good ties with Washington. Speculation about locating the next summit there grew after Ri Yong Ho, the North Korean foreign minister, visited at the end of November to early December.

Bloomberg pointed to reports that Mark Lambert, a senior US state department official handling North Korean issues, also travelled to Vietnam in December, although it is unclear if the two visits overlapped.

Meanwhile, Canada has also revealed that it has been involved in US-approved backroom talks in recent months.

According to a report by CBC News, Canada quietly hosted a five-person delegation of high level North Korean officials in September, as part of international efforts to convince the hermit kingdom to abandon its nuclear arsenal and respect human rights.

A senior government official told the channel that Canada used a two day window “to push for denuclearisation and present very real human rights concerns directly, face-to-face, with North Korean interlocutors.”

However, the meetings were a one-off and a Canadian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that they did not signal an overall effort to regularise diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/apos-back-channel-apos-talks-062533651.html

 


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