The United States and North Korea will focus on a proposed shipment overseas of nuclear warheads possessed by Pyongyang when the two sides hold preparatory talks for a summit between President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un, U.S. officials said Sunday.
But it was not known if they can reach an agreement on the issue, given the North’s reluctance to meet the U.S. demand that it ship an estimated up to 20 warheads overseas at an early date as part of measures to achieve a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.
In a Twitter post, Trump said a U.S. team has arrived in North Korea to arrange for a summit that the two countries have been working to reinstate to the original date of June 12 in Singapore.
Trump hinted at U.S. economic assistance to North Korea, saying he believes the country “has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day.”
“Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this,” Trump wrote. “It will happen!”
Trump tweeted a day after he and Kim separately expressed willingness to meet June 12 in Singapore as originally planned, after the U.S. leader abruptly canceled the summit on Thursday, citing the North’s “open hostility.”
It will be the first encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations.
A U.S. media report said a U.S. delegation led by Sung Kim, a former ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North, met with Choe Son Hui, a North Korean vice foreign minister, after crossing the line that separates the two Koreas on Sunday.
The talks are expected to continue Monday and Tuesday at the truce village of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone, the Washington Post said in a dispatch from Seoul.
According to the U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, North Korea has expressed reluctance to ship all of its nuclear weapons and missiles outside the country.
It is likely that North Korea has proposed shipping in advance certain types of missiles such as intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States.
If U.S. and North Korean officials are unable to reach a deal in preparatory talks, a decision could be left to a Trump-Kim summit, according to the U.S. officials.
The officials are also expected to discuss how Pyongyang will scrap weapons-grade plutonium, highly enriched uranium and other nuclear-related material, they said.