09 April, 2018
The US and North Korea have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, a sign that planning for the highly anticipated meeting is progressing, reported CNN, citing several administration officials familiar with the discussions.
Led by former Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo, who awaits confirmation for his appointment as a secretary of state, the USA intelligence officials have met with their North Korean counterparts several times in a third country to nail down a venue for the summit, U.S. officials told CNN.
But Pyongyang has not broken its public silence on the summit, which USA officials say is being planned for May.
Some analysts have said Trump's willingness to meet Kim handed North Korea a diplomatic win, as the United States had insisted for years that any such summit be preceded by North Korean steps to denuclearize.
North Koreans officials have reportedly indicated they wanted to hold the summit in their capital of Pyongyang, but the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar has also been mentioned as a possibility. "If there were such talks, we think it's a positive move".
The talks between intelligence officials are laying the groundwork for a meeting between Pompeo and his North Korea counterpart, the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, in advance of the leaders' summit. "It's a good signal that the talks are going back and forth (between the United States and North Korea)". The representatives of the US and North Korea have already met in a third country.
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She added, "But we're going into this very cautiously, very much knowing that he's looked at the Iran deal, he's seen what he can get and he's seen how he can push through loopholes, and we're not going to let that happen again".
But the fact that the US has confirmed North Korea's willingness to even discuss denuclearization is a positive step toward the Trump-Kim meeting actually taking place, and suggests they are communicating directly in preparation for it.
The 2 Koreas earlier agreed that their leaders will use the hotline before they hold a summit on April 27th.
No date has been set for the meeting.
The working-level talks began on Saturday morning at a facility on the North side.