A team of U.S. negotiators led by Ambassador Sung Kim held talks with North Korean officials over the weekend in the Panmunjom truce village, a U.S. embassy spokesperson confirmed to NK News on Monday.
Sung Kim and his delegation met with the North Koreans “to discuss next steps on the implementation of President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un’s joint declaration signed during the historic Singapore summit,” the embassy official said.
According to the statement, the U.S. goal in continuing talks “remains the final, fully-verified denuclearization of the DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore.”
The names of other members of the U.S. delegation, or of their North Korean counterparts, have not been revealed.
The talks mark the first confirmed meetings between the two sides since the June 12 Singapore summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
They also come just a few days ahead of a suspected visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang, with various outlets now reporting a tentative arrival date of July 6.
Japan’s NHK has reported, citing a U.S. government source, that Pompeo then plans to travel to Tokyo on July 7.
Sung Kim has served as Ambassador to South Korea and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, and is the current U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines.
He led talks at Panmunjom in the weeks prior to the summit, and also joined Trump and Kim in Singapore for the working lunch on the day of the summit.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported that North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs Choe Son Hui, who led talks with Sung Kim before the summit, led the North’s delegation on Sunday.
Another top U.S. official involved in this year’s talks with North Korea, head of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center Andrew Kim, also reportedly joined talks over the weekend, though this was not included in the official statement provided Monday.
Yonhap reported that Andrew Kim had delivered a message from Pompeo on Sunday and that it was received by the Secretary of State’s frequent DPRK counterpart, Kim Yong Chol.
Kim Yong Chol serves as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and director of the United Front Department of the party’s Central Committee.
Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he expects Pyongyang will “dismantle the overwhelming bulk” of North Korea’s nuclear program “within a year.”
Bolton also sought to downplay reports over the weekend that North Korea is trying to conceal ongoing nuclear activities, saying they don’t “serve the purpose of advancing the negotiations.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: U.S. Department of State
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