Moon steps in when Trump and Kim fall out

Alex Brandon  AP

Alex Brandon AP

On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said U.S. and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom, a village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that runs along the heavily armed border between North and South Korea.

When he canceled the summit, Trump said his administration's "maximum pressure campaign" of sanctions against North Korea "will continue as it has been continuing".

Nauert provided no further details.

The South Korean leader is optimistic that relations with North Korea will continue to improve, saying, "If we could hold working-level, back-to-back talks on both sides of Panmunjom if urgently necessary in addition to formal summits, it would expedite advancement of inter-Korean relations".

Trump cancelled what would be the first-ever meeting between U.S. and North Korean leaders last Thursday, only to change his mind a day later. The meetings are expected to go through Monday and Tuesday, the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the arrangements.

The White House has not responded to VOA queries about the Trump-Abe discussion.

The Washington Post, citing a person familiar with the arrangements, said Mr Sung Kim, a former United States ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North, was leading the USA team, which met Mr Choe Son Hui, the North Korean vice-foreign minister.

The reports indicate that planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for June 12, is moving ahead after Trump called it off last week.

A broad liberalization of the North Korean economy that involves the free movement of people and information is unlikely too, says Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

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During the Oval Office meeting that including the media, Trump said: "I think there's a lot of goodwill".

It is unclear when or where Trump and Abe will meet before the anticipated Singapore summit, which the USA president has said in recent days is likely to occur on June 12 after he declared last Thursday that the summit would not be held on that day.

Earlier this month, the president scrapped a meeting with Kim because of a harsh statement made by North Korea.

In addition to those talks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said a "pre-advance team" left for Singapore - where the summit has been expected to take place - on Sunday morning to work on logistics.

American officials are sceptical Mr Kim would ever fully abandon his nuclear arsenal, and Mr Moon said North Korea was not yet convinced it can trust security guarantees from the United States.

Moon said on Monday there could be more impromptu talks between the two Koreas in the lead-up to the summit. "Based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting", Trump wrote.

Lord Hague has since criticised the potential US-North Korean summit, and pointed to three possible outcomes of the negotiations, in which the North Korean leader could enjoy a "win, win, win strategy".

"The best that can be hoped for from the South Korean perspective is that the North will agree to new bilateral projects, but I strongly suspect they will be subject to the same caveated zoned approach to development that Kaesong and Kumgang were" Graham adds, referring to a joint North-South Korea economic zone and tourism project developed under previous liberal South Korean governments.

Washington says it wants to see the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, in return for sanctions and economic relief.

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