US, N Korea to continue summit talks next week

Democratic women recognise the suffragettes by wearing white

Democratic women recognise the suffragettes by wearing white

The U.S. special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, visited Pyongyang last week to work out details of the February 27-28 summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump also tweeted that he was confident that North Korea would become an "Economic Powerhouse" under the country's leader Kim Jong Un.

The two men will meet on 27-28 February for talks expected to focus on persuading the communist state to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Trump announced in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that he would meet Mr Kim in Vietnam but did not say where exactly the summit would take place.

During the first Summit, held at Singapore's Sentosa Island, both Trump and Kim had agreed on a spectrum of issues, the most prominent being the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. We have some hard work to do with DPRK between now and then.

South Korea's presidential spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, said Biegun met Chung Eui-yong, director of the Blue House National Security Office, for 50 minutes Saturday from 4 p.m., saying they talked about the "results of the working-level talks" Biegun had in the North. "I look forward to seeing [Kim] and advancing the cause of peace!"

Attention will focus on whether the U.S. team have offered to lift some economic sanctions in return for Pyongyang taking concrete steps towards denuclearisation. More than seven months since they met, North Korea has made no commitments to allow weapons inspections or dismantle its growing arsenal of warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the USA sanctions are still in place. In the course of negotiations with the Trump administration, North Korea has not launched a missile since November 2017.

North Korea has said it will demolish all facilities at the nuclear site Yongbyon if Washington withdraws troops from South Korea and/or makes a formal treaty to end the Korean War - prompting some analysts to say the ball is in Washington's court to make sure North Korea will progress in its denuclearization effort.

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But progress has since stalled with the two sides disagreeing over what that means.

Biegun said last week his Pyongyang talks would be aimed at seeking progress on commitments made in Singapore and mapping out "a set of concrete deliverables" for the second summit.

A United Nations report last week found that North Korea continues to evade sanctions through illegal ship-to-ship transfers as well as illicit financial activities, according to diplomats who reviewed the report.

File images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States president Donald Trump.

The U.S. had initially demanded a doubling of the South Korean contribution, but in the end had to settle for a rise of 8.2 percent for the first year, equivalent to the rise in Seoul's total defense budget this year.

After years of criticism over its human rights record and its development of nuclear weapons, Kim has gained global legitimacy with his outreach to Trump and the South Korean government.

On Friday Trump tweeted that North Korea will become a "great Economic Powerhouse" under Kim. Kim will want the relaxation of sanctions against his country.

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