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Blue House confirms US-NK contact, says back-channel talks ‘going well’

Seoul’s presidential office on Monday confirmed that the US and North Korea are in direct contact, saying that progress is being made on the planned summit between the two countries.

“(Cheong Wa Dae) is not aware about the degree to which information is being shared, but as far as we are aware, US-North Korea contact is going well,” a high level Cheong Wa Dae official said on condition of anonymity. 

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Yonhap
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Yonhap

The comment confirms US media reports that US and North Korean intelligence officials have been in contact to prepare for the US-North Korea summit.

The meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is being arranged for some time after Kim’s meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The inter-Korean summit will be held on the South’s side of the Panmunjeom truce village. It will mark the first time a North Korean leader sets foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

In March, Trump had announced through South Korea’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong that he will meet Kim “by May.” The time of the unprecedented meeting between US and North Korean leaders, however, appears flexible with reports claiming that the two sides are aiming for late May or June.

While Seoul officials, including Chung who met Kim in Pyongyang early last month, have repeatedly stressed that Kim’s offer appears genuine, critics have raised doubt citing the North’s track record.

South Korea’s conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party has been among the most vocal critics of the planned meeting, claiming that the North was duping the Moon Jae-in administration to buy time to complete its nuclear weapons program.

By Choi He-suk (