South, North Korea set up direct hotline b/w leaders

This comes less than a week before Kim is due to meet with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in the first inter-Korean summit in 11 years.

"But Kim said that he understands the South's stance", a high-level official in South Korea's presidential office told CNN in March.

Sen. Robert Menendez, top-ranking Democrat on the committee that will have the first vote on confirmation, expressed frustration that the Central Intelligence Agency chief had not briefed him on the visit that took place more than a week before Pompeo's public hearing last Thursday. That explained President Donald Trump's previous comment that the two governments were holding talks at "extremely high levels". But the details of the commitment would be critical.

North Korea's preference is to sign a non-aggression pact with South Korea first, thereby ending the war, and sign a peace treaty with the U.S. thereafter. If this whole exercise will attain its objective of peace in Korea, the Don will have an ace in his sleeve come next U.S. presidential election. "That's the thing to be concerned about over time".

As depicted by the West, North Korea is a God-forsaken country that does not observe human rights, is ruled with an iron hand and is underdeveloped. Such a move could be an olive branch from Kim, who last year released college student Otto Warmbier to return to the USA after he had been detained for more than a year.

North Korea later returned the call to check the channel worked both ways.

At his joint news conference with Abe, Trump was asked by a reporter to explain why CIA Director Mike Pompeo had returned without the three Americans from his secret meeting with Kim in Pyongyang over Easter weekend. "So I would anticipate progress there", he said. "I think there's a good chance of doing it".

Kim could also offer to return some of the Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded his two-day working visit to the USA on Wednesday.

South Korea confirmed on Wednesday that it is considering how to change a decadesold armistice with North Korea into a peace treaty as it prepares for the inter-Korean summit to be held on the South Korean side of Panmunjeom on April 27.

The timing of a planned phone call between the two leaders - slated to take place ahead of their meeting next Friday - is yet to be decided.

"North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site", he said.

He is the most senior US official to meet with a North Korean leader since Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim's father in Pyongyang in 2000.

"The pessimistic interpretation is that Kim is intent on making concession after concession in private to show Moon that he is the reasonable one, with the expectation that Trump will ultimately be unable or unwilling to deliver", Pollack said. Short of that, the United States could pause or scale back military exercises in the region.

"With that clarification, the United States and North Korea have agreed to sit down at the summit", he said. It includes long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

"China is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with North Korea, deepen strategic communications, expand talks and cooperation, and to bring out the important leading role of high-level contact in China-North Korea relations". Such a move could open the door more humanitarian or economic aid to Pyongyang.

Such discussions between the two Koreas, and between North Korea and the United States, would have been unthinkable at the end of a year ago, after months of escalating tension, and fear of war, over the North's weapons programs. Despite nascent diplomatic efforts, the Trump administration has stuck by a campaign of "maximum pressure" and harsh sanctions on the North Korean regime.

Both Trump and Kim could significantly improve their global stature as a result of the meeting.

Reversing that program is Trump's goal. Pulling that back would end the US commitment to "extended deterrence" - its threat of nuclear retaliation if either country is attacked by the North.

"Hopefully, that meeting will be a great success", Trump said.

Trump later voiced hopes of a successful summit but warned that he could "respectfully" walk away if it appears the talks will not be "fruitful".

Such an outcome could raise the prospects for some kind of military confrontation.

  • Kyle Peterson