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US calls summit prep talks with N. Korea ‘productive’

TOKYO, The US envoy for North Korea on Saturday described this week’s working-level talks with North Korea to prepare for the two countries’ second summit late this month as “productive,” Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun flew back to Seoul on Friday evening following a three-day visit to Pyongyang aimed at fine-tuning details for the February 27 to 28 summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“I would say it was a productive set of discussions over the last few days, and our team engaged on a number of areas of mutual interest, and we’ve agreed to meet again,” Biegun was quoted as saying during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul.

“So, I think this is a constructive place to be especially in advance of the president’s second summit with Chairman Kim,” he added. In Pyongyang, Biegun met his North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok-chol, a former ambassador to Spain, with an aim to make progress towards the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula that their leaders agreed to in their first historic summit in Singapore in June.

During his meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha earlier in the day, Biegun cited “some hard work” to do with the North before the Trump-Kim summit, but did not elaborate. “We don’t know where it is going to go, but we are in the midst of a conversation with the North,” he said. “I am confident that both sides stay committed, that we can make real progress,” he added. Just before Biegun’s talks with Seoul officials, Trump announced that Hanoi will host his summit with Kim under the vision of “final, fully” verified denuclearization. Washington has been pressuring Pyongyang to take concrete, substantive steps for its nuclear disarmament, including a declaration of its nuclear and missile programs.

The North demanded the US’ corresponding measures for its denuclearization steps that may include partial sanctions relief, establishment of a US liaison office in Pyongyang and a declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Source: Kuwait News Agency

ANE