North Korea and the United States have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for May with a focus on its location, CNN reported Saturday (local time). North Korea has been pushing to have the highly anticipated meeting in their capital Pyongyang, but it is unclear whether the White House would be willing to accept the suggestion, according to the newspaper.
On the U.S. side, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo who was recently named secretary of state by Trump has led efforts to prepare for the summit while in the North, the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau is in charge of the preparation, CNN added. Jang Gil Sung, who was director of the bureau at the time of the sinking of the warship Cheonan and thus often called a person responsible for the attack, is known to be the bureau’s head, but some say that Kim Yong Chol, director of the United Front Department, serves as the head of the country’s intelligence agency.
Observers say that it is highly likely for President Trump to choose a third country to hold the talks as he may find it burdensome to become a first U.S. president to visit Pyongyang. Mongolia, China and Sweden have reportedly offered to provide a venue for the talks.
While the North Korea-U.S. meeting was originally planned to be held by May, U.S. officials said that “the current target is late May or even June,” according to CNN. The White House seems to be taking a more cautious approach considering that President Trump, during last month’s meeting with South Korean special envoys, initially expressed his willingness to hold the talks in April but finally set its timeline in May after faced with the dissuasion of envoys from Seoul. In this regard, the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae is reportedly discussing with the White House a measure to hold a South Korea-U.S. summit in early or mid-May.
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