Top US envoy returns to South Korea after North Korea visit

Top US envoy returns to South Korea after North Korea visit

Top US envoy returns to South Korea after North Korea visit

South Koreans, always deeply divided over how best to deal with their often belligerent northern neighbor, are reacting with both hope and wariness to United States President Trump's announcement that he will hold a second nuclear disarmament summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on February 27-28 in Vietnam.

"Special Representative Biegun and Special Representative Kim agreed to meet again in advance of President Trump and Chairman Kim's second summit", it added.

Ahead of his visit to the Koreas, Bigeun said last week that Kim had committed to "the dismantlement and destruction of North Korea's plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities" during a September summit with Moon and at a meeting with the U.S. secretary of state in October.

Naming his North Korean counterpart's current position in the government for the first time, it said Biegun and Special Representative for U.S. Affairs of the State Affairs Commission Kim Hyok Chol discussed bilateral relations, but was short on details.

Just weeks ahead of the planned summit the two sides have at times appeared far from bridging significant gaps over how and if the North will relinquish its nuclear weapons program.

They were expected to meet in mid-February on the sidelines of an global forum in Germany but dropped the plan after Pompeo canceled his European trip, a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

Discussions on declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean war could also have been on the table, with Biegun last week saying Trump was "ready to end this war".

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats has made public his assessment that North Korea is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons because it views them as critical to regime survival.

North Korea has been known to parade its missiles through the streets and has aggressively pursued a nuclear program. Bieguin was also to brief Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, who was sent to Seoul for the briefing the same day, Kyodo News reported.

Critics fear the second summit is an attempt by Kim to win relief from US sanctions without any real promise of denuclearisation.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high-ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017.

Until now, it's been known that the summit will be held in Vietnam, but the exact city hadn't been revealed. "He may surprise some but he won't surprise me, because I have gotten to know him and fully understand how capable he is", he wrote in his post.

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