SEOUL – The United States Special Representative for North Korea travelled to Seoul on Sunday to meet representatives from Pyongyang and prepare for the second summit between the leaders of the two countries, scheduled to be held later this month.
After arriving in Seoul, Stephen Biegun was due to meet South Korea’s top nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon, to coordinate on talks with the North Korean regime over its denuclearization, South Korean officials told Yonhap news agency.
On Monday, the US envoy is scheduled to meet North Korea’s new negotiation in talks with Washington, Kim Hyok-chol, at the border village of Panmunjom to finalize details of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
These meetings are expected to iron out the details and set the date and venue of the summit, two weeks after Trump announced it would be held at the end of February.
Kim Hyok-chol was part of the delegation accompanying former North Korean military intelligence chief, Kim Yong-chol, to Washington in mid-January to meet Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to US media reports, the Vietnamese city of Danang, located along the coast of the South China Sea, is the venue preferred by negotiating teams from both countries to host the next meeting between Trump and Kim, while Hanoi and Thailand were also considered as possible venues.
North Korea and the US hope that the second summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un will restart the stalled denuclearization talks.
In the first summit in Singapore in June last year, the two leaders agreed to work towards the denuclearization of the regime in exchange for security guarantees from Washington, but there has been little developments since.
Both North and South Korea have removed border posts and called back troops from their shared border, but a lack of a clear roadmap for the dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuclear program has hampered progress.
The lack of development in talks is still a marked improvement on the low-point of 2017, when North Korea tested several missiles that it claimed were capable of striking targets in the US and Japan, and Trump and Kim became engaged in an escalating war of words.