About the Author
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
Three sites are under consideration for a second U.S.-DPRK summit, President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday, en route back from a G20 meeting in Argentina.
A second Trump-Kim Jong Un meeting, originally expected to take place before the end of 2018, could now be less than two months away.
“I think we’re going to do one fairly (soon) — into January, February, I think,” Trump said in remarks carried by the AFP news agency.
Furthermore, he said he would be interested in inviting Kim to the U.S. for talks at “some point” in the future.
“We’re getting along very well, we have a good relationship,” Trump also said.
News on the summit timeline comes despite the cancellation of recently planned talks between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and DPRK counterpart Kim Yong Chol, as well as the retirement of CIA Korea Mission Center head Andrew Kim.
Those events, combined with a recent North Korean threat to renew overt nuclear development should Washington continue opposing sanctions relief, suggested to many analysts that the countries are having problems seeing eye-to-eye, calling into question when a second summit might take place.
Meanwhile, the White House said that Trump had agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to strive to “see a nuclear-free Korean peninsula”.
Trump and Xi agreed that “great progress has been made with respect to North Korea,” the White House statement added.
On Twitter, Pompeo added: “Honored to join @POTUS for his working dinner with #China’s President Xi. We talked about the need for free, fair and reciprocal trade, and our commitment to the final, fully-verified denuclearization of #DPRK.”
Prospects for a second summit to overcome a current logjam in negotiations will likely depend on whether either the U.S. or DPRK can show flexibility with regards to offering gestures surrounding sanctions relief or steps towards denuclearization.
While the U.S. continues to state regularly that it will oppose sanctions relief until North Korea “fully denuclearizes,” last week Washington notably allowed the UN sanctions committee to provide the two Koreas an exemption to facilitate an inter-Korean rail inspection.
The DPRK, however, has not made any further progress towards denuclearization since the partial shut-down of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station earlier this year.
Main picture: A. Lim, Straits Times