U.S. despatches army of envoys to salvage talks

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The US State Department says American officials are meeting with North Korean officials at the border village of Panmunjom as talks continue over a potential summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I think when he was campaigning for president and he said back then that he would sit down with Kim Jong Un, that the North Koreans paid attention to that and they said, here's a president, for the first time, who is not playing by the book and let's take advantage of that".

The Washington Post reported that the United States delegation to the Panmunjom meeting - in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea - was led by Sung Kim, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North.

"We two leaders agreed the June 12 North Korea-US summit must be successfully held", he said.

"We're doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea", Trump said at the White House Saturday.

James Clapper, director of United States national intelligence under former president Barack Obama, told CNN: "I support the letter that President Trump sent".

"We've not been able to conduct the preparations between our two teams that would be necessary to have a successful summit", Pompeo said. "It's moving along very nicely", Trump added. But less than 24 hours later, Trump said the June 12 meeting would still be possible. We're looking at June 12 in Singapore.

The Washington Post, citing a person familiar with the arrangements, said Sung Kim, a former USA ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North, was leading the preparations on the USA side. Trump announced Thursday that he was canceling the summit but later suggested in a tweet that the talks might go forward after all.

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He crossed the line that separates the two Koreas to meet with Choe Son Hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister, who said last week that Pyongyang was "reconsidering" the talks.

Most analysts still thinks it is extremely unlikely that North Korea will surrender its nuclear weapons.

Some credited Trump's unorthodox brand of diplomacy with helping bring North Korea to the negotiating table.

The Heritage Foundation's Bruce Klingner, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst on the Koreas, tells NPR's Elise Hu that the USA and North Korea still are not aligned on a definition of denuclearization. "It hasn't changed. So we'll see what happens".

If U.S. and North Korean officials are unable to reach a deal in preparatory talks, a decision could be left to a Trump-Kim summit, according to the U.S. officials. Speaking to reporters, Moon said Kim was still committed to the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

"This is going to be an opportunity that Japan, which has the abduction issue, should never lose", said Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in a speech in Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

But Mr. Moon also made clear that any steps to dial back Mr. Kim's nuclear capabilities could come with strings attached.

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