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SKorea: Kim Commits to US Summit       05/27 13:35

   South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that North Korean leader Kim 
Jong Un committed in their surprise meeting to sitting down with President 
Donald Trump and to a "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday 
that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed in their surprise meeting to 
sitting down with President Donald Trump and to a "complete denuclearization of 
the Korean Peninsula."

   The Korean leaders' second summit in a month saw bear hugs and broad smiles, 
but their quickly arranged meeting Saturday appears to highlight a sense of 
urgency on both sides of the world's most heavily armed border.

   At the White House, Trump said negotiations over a potential June 12 summit 
with Kim that he had earlier canceled were "going along very well." Trump told 
reporters that they are still considering Singapore as the venue for their 
talks. He said there is a "lot of good will," and that denuclearization of the 
Korean Peninsula would be "a great thing."

   The Koreas' talks, which Moon said Kim requested, capped a whirlwind 24 
hours of diplomatic back-and-forth. They allowed Moon to push for a U.S.-North 
Korean summit that he sees as the best way to ease animosity that had some 
fearing a war last year.

   Kim may see the sit-down with Trump as necessary to easing pressure from 
crushing sanctions and to winning security assurances in a region surrounded by 
enemies.

   Moon told reporters Sunday that Kim "again made clear his commitment to a 
complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," and that he told the South 
Korean leader he's willing to cooperate to end confrontation and work toward 
peace for the sake of the successful North Korea-U.S. summit.

   Moon said he told Kim that Trump has a "firm resolve" to end hostile 
relations with North Korea and initiate economic cooperation if Kim implements 
"complete denuclearization."

   "What Kim is unclear about is that he has concerns about whether his country 
can surely trust the United States over its promise to end hostile relations 
(with North Korea) and provide a security guarantee if they do 
denuclearization," Moon said.

   "During the South Korea-U.S. summit, President Trump said the U.S. is 
willing to clearly put an end to hostile relations (between the U.S. and North 
Korea) and help (the North) achieve economic prosperity if North Korea conducts 
denuclearization," he said.

   Moon said North Korea and the United States will soon start working-level 
talks to prepare for the Kim-Trump summit. He said he expects the talks to go 
smoothly because Pyongyang and Washington both know what they want from each 
other.

   Kim, in a telling line from a dispatch issued by the North's state-run news 
service earlier Sunday, "expressed his fixed will on the historic (North 
Korea)-U.S. summit talks." During Saturday's inter-Korean summit, the Korean 
leaders agreed to "positively cooperate with each other as ever to improve 
(North Korea)-U.S. relations and establish (a) mechanism for permanent and 
durable peace."

   They agreed to have their top officials meet again June 1. 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.

   Saturday's Korean summit came hours after South Korea expressed relief over 
revived talks for a Trump-Kim meeting.

   Despite repeated references to "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" by 
the North, it remains unclear whether Kim will ever agree to fully abandon his 
nuclear arsenal.

   The North has previously used the term to demand the United States pull out 
its 28,500 troops in South Korea and withdraw its so-called "nuclear umbrella" 
security commitment to South Korea and Japan. The North hasn't openly repeated 
those same demands after Kim's sudden outreach to Seoul and Washington.

   Moon has insisted Kim can be persuaded to abandon his nuclear facilities, 
materials and bombs in a verifiable and irreversible way in exchange for 
credible security and economic guarantees. Moon said Sunday that the North's 
disarmament could be still be a difficult process even if Pyongyang, Washington 
and Seoul don't differ over what "complete denuclearization" of the peninsula 
means.

   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.

   "While Washington and Pyongyang have expressed their hopes for a summit 
through published statements, Moon has to step up as the mediator because the 
surest way to set the meeting in stone would be an official confirmation of 
intent between heads of states," Hong said.

   Some U.S. officials have talked about a comprehensive one-shot deal in which 
North Korea fully eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later. But 
Kim, through two summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March and May, 
has called for a phased and synchronized process in which every action he takes 
is met with a reciprocal reward from the United States.

   Before he canceled the summit, Trump did not rule out an incremental 
approach that would provide incentives along the way to the North.

   Following an unusually provocative 2017 in which his engineers tested a 
purported thermonuclear warhead and three long-range missiles theoretically 
capable of striking mainland U.S. cities, Kim has engaged in a flurry of 
diplomatic activity in recent months. He has had the summits with Moon and Xi, 
as well as two meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

   In addition to the team on North Korea that Pompeo set up last year when he 
was CIA director, he has now enlisted veteran U.S. diplomat Sung Kim to help in 
the process, a senior U.S. official said. Kim, who is currently ambassador to 
the Philippines, also served as ambassador to South Korea and was part of the 
U.S. negotiating team that last held substantive denuclearization talks with 
North Korea during the George W. Bush administration in 2005.

   Photos released by South Korea's presidential office showed Moon arriving at 
the North Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village on Saturday and shaking 
hands with Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, before sitting down with the 
North Korean leader for their summit.

   Moon was accompanied by his spy chief, Suh Hoon, while Kim was joined by Kim 
Yong Chol, a former military intelligence chief who is now Kim's top official 
on inter-Korean relations. The two leaders embraced as Moon departed.

   At their first meeting on April 27, Kim and Moon first announced "complete 
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and permanent peace, which Seoul has 
tried to sell as a meaningful breakthrough to set up the summit with Trump.

   Ahead of that summit, the Koreas established their first-ever leaders' 
hotline to enable Moon and Kim to engage in direct communication and defuse 
crises. But Moon said Sunday that he and Kim decided to meet again, rather than 
have a telephone conversation, as their aides suggested "candid" face-to-face 
talks between the leaders.

   Relations between the two Koreas had chilled in recent weeks, with North 
Korea canceling a high-level meeting with Seoul over South Korea's 
participation in regular military exercises with the United States and 
insisting that it will not return to talks unless its grievances are resolved.

   South Korea was caught off guard by Trump's abrupt cancellation of his 
summit with Kim, with the U.S. president citing hostility in recent North 
Korean comments. Moon said Trump's decision left him "perplexed" and was "very 
regrettable." He urged Washington and Pyongyang to resolve their differences 
through "more direct and closer dialogue between their leaders."

   Saturday's summit marked the fourth meeting between the leaders of the two 
Koreas since they were divided at the end of the World War II in 1945.


(KA)

 
 
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