Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov meets Kim Jong
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov meets Kim Jong
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is under fire on a number of fronts
31 May, 2018, 19:15
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Kim Yong-chol (R), Vice Chairman of North Korea, during their dinner meeting with on May 30, 2018 in NY.
Kim Yong-chol is greeted by U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Wednesday in NY.
The North Koreans will have to lay out a disarmament plan in the next few days if a planned summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is to go ahead on schedule in two weeks' time, a senior U.S. state department official said on Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with a top North Korean official in NY.
The men and two aides went to a high-rise building in east Manhattan, and ate a high-class menu served on State Department crockery in a "working dinner" created to help hash out the two countries' dramatically different ideas of how North Korea should handle its nuclear weapons program.
Lavrov spoke to his U.S. counterpart Pompeo by telephone for the first time on Wednesday ahead of the Secretary of State's dinner meeting with Kim Yong-chol.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also expressed optimism about a nuclear summit.
Tensions were calmed after Kim extended an olive branch by offering to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, sparking a rapid détente that led to Trump agreeing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang.
Initially scheduled for June 12, the date of the summit remains yet to be set in stone - especially after Trump called off the meeting before reinstating it again within 24 hours. (AP/AAP) Donald Trump has praised the "very good meetings" in NY.
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The directives will raise eyebrows among North Koreans who now will not know what to believe about recent developments, despite some signs of enthusiasm about détente with South Korea and the US, said a source from North Pyongan province who declined to be named. The main stumbling block is likely to be the concept of "denuclearization" - both sides say they want it, but there is a yawning gap between their definitions.
Despite Lavrov's invitation to Kim, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that it's "too early to speculate" about a Putin-Kim summit.
North Korea said Monday it will move in accordance with its own timetable to help achieve a nuclear-free world, attaching great importance to the recent destruction of its nuclear weapons test site.
But the leadership in Pyongyang is believed to regard nuclear weapons as crucial to its survival and has rejected unilaterally disarming.
"He is probably one of the most up-to-date North Korean officials about what North Korea's requirements are for the summit", said Catherine Dill, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in Calilfornia.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Seoul's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon as saying in a speech on Wednesday that the differences between North Korea and the United States on the denuclearization issue remained "quite significant" and it would not be easy to narrow the gap.
"I want it to be meaningful", he added.
While the Central Committee's statement served to cushion possible "psychological unrest" among citizens, it also included phrasing to indicate that the North has not abandoned its nuclear power ambitions, the source said.
North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as USA ambitions to overthrow its leadership and unite the Korean Peninsula.
Lavrov's May 31 visit - his first to North Korea since 2009 - was seen as an attempt by Moscow to ensure its voice is heard in Pyongyang's diplomatic overtures with the United States and South Korea.
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