Following the historic June 12, 2018 summit in Singapore between the United States of America, USA President Donald Trump and North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK leader, Kim Jong-un, both sides have maintained contacts with a view to ridding the peninsula of nuclear weapons. Despite apparent lack of progress in follow-up discussions since the Singapore meeting, the US and DPRK have not given up efforts at strengthening the newfound entente between them.
It is against this backdrop that Stephen Biegun, the United States Special Representative for North Korea, arrived in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on February 3, 2019. He is meeting DPRK representatives to prepare for a second summit between leaders of the two countries later this month. Biegun met South Korea’s top nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, to coordinate talks with the North Korean regime over denuclearization, Yonhap news agency reported. The US envoy was scheduled to meet Kim Hyok-chol, North Korea’s new negotiator on February 4, 2019 in the border village of Panmunjom to finalize details of the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong un, agency reports said.
The meetings are expected to iron out details and set the date and venue of the summit. Kim Hyok-chol was part of the delegation that accompanied former North Korean military intelligence chief, Kim Yong-chol, to Washington last month to meet President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Vietnamese city of Danang, located along the coast of the South China Sea, is said to be the venue preferred by both negotiating teams for the summit between Trump and Kim – though Hanoi and Thailand were also considered.
North Korea last year suspended nuclear and missile tests, dismantled its nuclear test site and parts of its rocket launch facility, and released American detainees. Some ex perts suggest that North Korea at the forthcoming summit will in exchange for the destruction of its main Yongbyon nuclear complex insist on a US promise to formally declare the end of the 1950-1953 war between North Korea and South Korea, open a liaison office in Pyongyang and allow the North to resume lucrative economic projects with South Korea.