South Korea relieved about revived US-NK talks

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has met his South Korean counterpart just days after Donald Trump cancelled a planned summit with Kim.

Tokyo hopes to be briefed by Seoul on what transpired during a two-hour meeting Saturday afternoon at the truce village of Panmunjeom between South Korean President Moon Jae In and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Moon, who brokered the summit between Washington and Pyongyang, likely used Saturday's meeting to confirm Kim's willingness to enter nuclear negotiations with Trump and clarify what steps Kim has in mind in the process of denuclearization, said Hong Min, a senior analyst at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification.

He added that if necessary, the meeting "will be extended beyond that date".

In a text message sent to reporters, presidential chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said the leaders of the two Koreas held a two-hour meeting at Panmungak, a North Korean building inside the border village of Panmunjeom. "That tells you how much Koreans want peace on the peninsula".

The meeting inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the two nations comes a day after the USA president said his summit with Pyongyangcould still go ahead.

North Korea had indicated it wasn't happy with the way things were progressing when it called of high level talks with South Korea over joint US-South Korean military drills.

In response to Trump's cancellation, North Korea struck a more conciliatory tone, saying it was "willing to give the US time and opportunities" to reconsider talks.

Trump seemingly at odds with Mike Pompeo over certainty of North Korea summit
Trump seemingly at odds with Mike Pompeo over certainty of North Korea summit

With prospects dimming and aides increasingly skeptical, Trump at first clung to his plans to meet with the North Korean leader, seeking to pull off what the president saw as a history-making nuclear deal. At that meeting, they declared they would work toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Trump now says he remains open to holding a summit and noted "the lines of communication had opened between the two countries".

But the delicate diplomacy had appeared to be in jeopardy in recent days after North Korea threatened to pull out of the meeting over joint military exercises by the US and South Korea in the region - and over comments by John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, suggesting the administration may be seeking regime change.

Trump said they are still considering June 12 in Singapore for the summit with Kim Jong Un. After a year of fiery rhetoric the two leaders agreed to meet in Singapore next month in what would be a historic summit.

An unexpected meeting between the leaders of South and North Korea today has reignited hopes that a cancelled peace summit with US President Donald Trump could be revived.

Trump blamed the cancellation on the "tremendous anger and open hostility" in a recent statement by the North Koreans. He even said it was possible the meeting could take place on the originally planned June 12 date.

North Korea responded to Trump's decision with a surprisingly conciliatory gesture, asking Trump to reconsider and saying that the North was ready to resume dialogue.

  • Rogelio Becker