Senior US and South Korean officials have met to discuss an expected second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
President Trump’s special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, arrived in South Korea over the weekend amid reports that he will meet North Korean officials soon to work out details for the summit.
President Trump told CBS’s Face The Nation that “the meeting is set” with Mr Kim, but he provided no further details about the meeting expected around the end of February.
The president said there was “a very good chance that we will make a deal”.
With the North under economic penalties and the US unwilling to ease them under the North commits to destroying its nuclear arsenal, President Trump said Mr Kim “has a chance to have North Korea be a tremendous economic behemoth. It has a chance to be one of the great economic countries in the world. He can’t do that with nuclear weapons and he can’t do that on the path they’re on now”.
Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Mr Biegun and his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon held consultations about working-level US-North Korea talks ahead of the summit.
South Korean media reported Mr Biegun and his North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok Chol will likely meet at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom or in the North’s capital of Pyongyang early this week.
Little progress has been made towards ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons since President Trump and Mr Kim held their first summit in Singapore last June.
During that summit, Mr Kim pledged to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, though he did not provide a timetable or road-map for his disarmament steps.
Last year, North Korea suspended nuclear and missile tests, dismantled its nuclear test site and parts of its rocket launch facility and released American detainees.
The North demanded the United States to take corresponding measures such as sanctions relief.
US officials want North Korea to take more significant steps, saying sanctions will stay in place until North Korea denuclearises.
Satellite footage taken since the June summit has indicated North Korea has been continuing to produce nuclear materials at its weapons factories.
Last Tuesday, US intelligence chiefs told Congress they believe there is little likelihood Mr Kim will voluntarily give up his nuclear weapons or missiles capable of carrying them.