Singapore abuzz with preparations for Trump-Kim summit

If confirmed, this is likely to be the first time the North Korean leader is meeting a counterpart in Pyongyang.

Perhaps with the confirmation from President Trump that the summit is back on track for June 12 in Singapore, Kim Jong-un made a decision to get rid of some older advisers who are less than enthusiastic about Kim's willingness to engage South Korea and the United States.

"I am going to visit the DPRK and meet HE Kim Jong Un", Assad said on May 30, North Korea's KCNA news agency reported, using the initials of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

-North Korea summit from behind the scenes, handles the delicate preparations by keeping details from President Donald Trump out of fear that he will tweet about them, according to a Monday CNN report. It is quite possible that the nepotistic Kim regime has just become better equipped at obfuscating those dire facts from foreign eyes.

This is something of a change from Trump's previous statements, which seemed to indicate he expected a deal to be signed in Singapore on denuclearization and other issues, and raised the possibility it may be more of a meet and greet between the two leaders.

Democrats defined a good deal as meeting five pillars: the dismantlement or relinquishing of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; the end to uranium and plutonium enrichment and the dismantlement of the infrastructure necessary to do that; the continued suspension of ballistic missile tests; the ability to conduct inspections for nuclear and missile activity anytime anywhere in North Korea, as well as the ability to snap back sanctions if illicit activity is found; and the assurance that the deal would be permanent.

The talks, which were cancelled by Trump before being re-scheduled last week for the same day and place, are expected to focus on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme and tensions between the USA and North Korea.

The intention to spend the prize money is in line with the work the group has done to lobby for the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 nations but not any of the nuclear weapons states or North Korea.

The US official did not identify the three military officials.

Late last month the North's state media revealed that Kim Su Gil had been appointed as director of the military's powerful General Political Bureau (GPB), replacing Kim Jong Gak.

Ri Yong Gil served as chief of staff from 2013 to 2016 until he reportedly fell from grace for a brief period, the analysts said. There was no official confirmation from Assad's office. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who said it's not clear yet if a deal with North Korea would be a treaty that would require Senate ratification but said at some point Congress would need to vote to relieve mandatory sanctions that are in place against North Korea.

Since taking power in 2011, Kim has not publicly met with another head of state in North Korea.

But the North has given no clear hints about how far it could go toward meeting USA demands to dismantle its nuclear program. "They are loyal to Kim Jong-un and no one else", he told Reuters. He's promised American investment in the under-developed country would follow.

They added that the GPB could be influential enough to resist leadership policy decisions and try to profit from future South Korean economic aid.

Avoiding the political embarrassment of another abrupt USA withdrawal from the planned summit could also underlie Seoul's caution, said Kim Meen-geon, a professor of political science at Kyung Hee University in Seoul.

In a remarkable shift in tone eight days after cancelling the summit, citing Pyongyang's "open hostility", Trump welcomed North Korea's former intelligence chief, Kim Yong Chol, to the White House on Friday, afterward exchanging smiles and handshakes.

Gen Kim Yong-chol's visit came a day after he met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY, who described their talks of denuclearisation as "substantive".

Washington insiders believe there was anger and growing frustration among Kim's top officials over his handling of talks with the US.

  • Rogelio Becker