North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the weekend both expressed their willingness to meet June 12 in Singapore as initially planned, after days of conflicting signals.
Kim expressed his “fixed will” to have talks with Trump, North Korea’s state media reported Sunday in giving details of Kim’s previous day’s talks with South Korean President Moon Jae In.
Trump later told reporters at the White House that talks between U.S. and North Korean officials on arranging the summit, which he had canceled just two days earlier, appear to be “going along very well.”
“We’re looking at June 12 in Singapore, That hasn’t changed,” he said, speaking after the White House announced that a team of U.S. officials was slated to leave for Singapore as initially planned to prepare for the possible summit.
Moon told a press conference Sunday that whether the U.S.-North Korea summit can be successful in bringing about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula depends on whether the preparatory meeting runs smoothly.
He and Kim held their surprise meeting — the second in a month — at the truce village of Panmunjeom after Trump revived hopes of holding the summit with Kim as originally scheduled.
They held “in-depth” discussions on issues related to denuclearization and regional peace, and agreed to hold high-level talks between officials of the two Koreas on June 1, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
They also shared the view that both countries should “exert joint efforts” to implement “at an early date” the declaration issued after their first meeting on April 27, KCNA said.
Kim and Moon reached a “satisfactory consensus” in the matters discussed at their talks, it said.
The North Korean leader told Moon that the two Koreas should “positively cooperate with each other” to improve Washingon-Pyongyang relations, while he thanked the South’s president for his efforts to bring about “the summit scheduled for June 12.”
The meeting was held at North Korea’s request, Moon said.
Their April 27 summit was the first in over a decade. The two previous inter-Korean summits were in 2000 and 2007.
At last month’s summit, Kim and Moon issued the Panmunjeom Declaration calling for “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as efforts to declare a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Moon, who has pledged to serve as a broker between Pyongyang and Washington in talks over a potential U.S.-North Korea summit, visited Washington last week and met with Trump to discuss issues related to the divided peninsula.
But on Thursday, just two days after meeting with Moon, Trump canceled the meeting with Kim. The South Korean leader later said he was “very perplexed” by that move.
On Friday, North Korea, in a conciliatory statement, urged Trump to reconsider his decision, prompting him to suggest the summit could still happen on June 12.
The restrained reaction from Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, Pyongyang’s long-serving point man on nuclear issues, was in marked contrast with the belligerent statements issued by him and another senior Foreign Ministry official earlier this month
“We would like to make known to the U.S. side once again that we have the intent to sit with the U.S. side to solve problem regardless of ways at any time,” he said in the statement carried by KCNA.
Kim is believed to be keen to ask the United States to accept the continuation of North Korea’s hereditary authoritarianism, in return for Pyongyang vowing to denuclearize in a “phased” and “synchronized” manner.
Trump, however, has urged North Korea to abandon all its nuclear weapons as soon as possible if Pyongyang wants to receive returns.