N Korea Summit Has Become More About the Show Than Substance

Moon on Sunday announced the outcome of Saturday's surprise talks with Kim at the truce village of Panmunjom, which were held in an effort to ensure the landmark meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader goes ahead.

At the press conference, Moon said that the success of the US-North Korea summit hinges on working-level talks between the two countries, and that he has high hopes that the meeting will go as planned on June 12.

President Moon Jae-in on Sunday said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has "firm will" for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

A statement from North Korea's state news agency KCNA said Kim expressed "his fixed will" on the possibility of meeting Mr Trump as previously planned.

The meetings are expected to continue Monday and Tuesday at Tongilgak, or "Unification House", the building in the northern part of the DMZ where Kim Jong Un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in Saturday for impromptu talks aimed at salvaging the summit, scheduled to be held in Singapore. "It's moving along very nicely", the president continued, adding: "So we're looking at June 12th in Singapore".

CNN said that the discussions were focused on the substance of the summit, while a separate United States team in Singapore was dealing with the logistics.

"I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done".

The South Korean leader declined to comment on how denuclearization will be achieved, saying that a roadmap has to be worked out by the USA and North Korea. Moon said Sunday that the North's disarmament could be still be a hard process even if Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul don't differ over what "complete denuclearisation" of the peninsula means.

Politico magazine reported earlier that an advance team of 30 White House and State Department officials were preparing to depart later this weekend.

Mr Moon said military generals and Red Cross officials from the Koreas will also meet separately to discuss how to ease military tensions and resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

"Kim, once again, made clear his intent on complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Moon told reporters in Seoul.

North Korea responded to Trump's letter as well, in a surprising way, calling it "unexpected" and "extremely regrettable", and saying Pyongyang was willing "to sit face to face at any time".

"A US delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, referring to a village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that runs along the heavily armed border between North and South Korea.

Moon said Kim described the Singapore summit as a landmark opportunity to end decades of confrontation.

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.

An official at South Korea's presidential office says it was North Korea who reached out first.

The May summit was seen as Kim's bid to gain diplomatic leverage before his summit with Trump by showing off the Pyongyang-Beijing alliance.

On Sunday, a team of USA officials visited North Korea to help prepare for the summit.

"It looked like the real Kim Jong Un, but later I realised it's not the real one", said Sagar Admuthe who was visiting from Mumbai, India, after several selfies with the doppleganger against a backdrop of the city's bay.

  • Rogelio Becker