American Officials Cross Into North Korea to Prepare for Trump-Kim Summit

May 27, 2018 Updated: September 27, 2018    

A group of American officials led by the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea crossed into North Korea on Sunday to discuss preparations for the historic meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to The Washington Post.

The leader of the U.S. delegation, Sung Kim, was called from his assignment as an envoy to the Philippines. Sung Kim crossed into North Korea and met with the communist regime’s vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hu. The pair had previously negotiated a denuclearization agreement in 2005.

The American team also included Allison Hooker, a Korea expert on the National Security Council, and an unnamed Department of Defense official.

Sung Kim was an ambassador to South Korea from 2011 to 2014. He then became a special representative of North Korea Policy.

The Americans are expected to continue the meetings on Monday and Tuesday with just over two weeks left until the planned June 12 summit in Singapore. The talks are being held at the Unification House, the same building where Kim Jong Un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in met on Saturday.

In this handout image provided by South Korean Presidential Blue House, South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) hugs with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) before their meeting on May 26, 2018 in Panmunjom, North Korea. (South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images)

Kim told Moon that he is still committed to the meeting with Trump and to complete denuclearization.

“We two leaders agreed the June 12 North Korea-U. S. summit must be successfully held,” Moon said, according to the Post.

Kim Jong Un’s willingness to hold the summit as scheduled is a tactical victory for Trump, who on Thursday pulled out of the meeting, citing combative rhetoric from Pyongyang.

After Trump pulled out, North Korea replied with a tempered statement indicating that it was still willing to meet. Shortly after, Trump revealed that talks between the two countries are continuing and that a summit may still take place as scheduled.

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he walks across the South Lawn after returning to the White House May 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If all goes according to plan, Trump will become the first American president to meet a North Korean leader in person.

North Korea has already made several major concessions. Pyongyang released three American hostages, agreed to the goals of peace and complete denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, and destroyed its only known nuclear test site.

Trump acknowledged Kim for each concession but has maintained a commitment to continuing maximum pressure and sanctions until Pyongyang completely abandons its nuclear weapons program.

 

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