WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a second summit in late February, the White House said Friday, though it did not identify a location.
The announcement came Friday after Trump met with a North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Chol, at the White House for a discussion that included talk about Kim’s unfulfilled pledge to dismantle his nation’s nuclear weapons programs.
“President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. “The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date.” Trump sat down with Kim Yong Chol, a high-level official in North Korea’s Communist government, in the Oval Office, said White House Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
Kim Yong Chol arrived at the White House after a closed-door meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. The three men met for under an hour Friday morning at the Dupont Circle Hotel in downtown Washington.
They did not respond to questions from journalists. The North Korean negotiator was reportedly carrying a letter from Kim to Trump. Pompeo left the hotel just before noon and went directly to the White House, where he was expected to join the Trump-Kim meeting.
Robert Palladino, a State Department spokesman, suggested the Pompeo meeting resulted in progress but no breakthrough. He said Pompeo, Biegun and Kim Yong Chol had a “good discussion” with Kim Yong Chol “on efforts to make progress on the commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore.”
Pompeo left the White House midafternoon without commenting. Palladino later said Pompeo had invited the North Korean official to lunch after their White House meeting.
Trump and Kim Jong Un have publicly talked about the possibility of a follow-up summit to the one they staged in June in Singapore.
In addition, Sweden’s news agency reported that a high-level meeting between U.S. and North Korean diplomats was being held in Stockholm.
The Trump administration seeks a second meeting even though it has criticized North Korea for not following up on the pledge to denuclearize and dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.
“While the president has started a promising dialogue with Chairman Kim,” Vice President Mike Pence said this week, “we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region.”
The Trump administration’s newly released Missile Defense Review said North Korea remains an “extraordinary threat” because of its nuclear weapons and threats to use them against the United States and its allies.
The North Koreans have not even provided the U.S. with an inventory of its nuclear weapons and facilities, which many analysts see as the key first step toward denuclearization.
In the meantime, the United States has refused North Korea’s repeated push to lift devastating economic sanctions on the regime, saying Kim must act first to begin relinquishing his nuclear arsenal.
While Trump hailed the Singapore agreement as a way to avoid potential war with North Korea, foreign policy analysts said the deal was so vague as to be meaningless.
Despite the lack of progress, Trump and Kim have both publicly touted the prospect of a second summit.
In recent weeks, their teams have explored possible meeting sites, including Hanoi, Vietnam, and Bangkok.
Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told Bloomberg TV this week that his country is willing to host the second Trump-Kim summit.
“We don’t know the final decision. However, if it happens here, we will do our best to facilitate the meeting,” he said.
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