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Bolton due in Seoul to discuss US-NK summit: report

US national security adviser John Bolton will travel to Seoul later this week to discuss matters regarding the US-North Korea summit, CNN reported Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are set to hold their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Details of the meeting’s schedule have not been released, but the US has announced that the summit will be held on Feb. 27 and 28. 

John Bolton. Yonhap
John Bolton. Yonhap

According to a CNN report citing two Trump administration officials, Bolton will hold “a round of consultations” while in South Korea.

Seoul has not confirmed the reports, though it has been speculated that Bolton would meet with Seoul’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom had earlier stated that Bolton and Chung would maintain close communication, when he announced that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump would hold a telephone conversation regarding the upcoming summit.

Bolton has maintained a reserved stance on developments surrounding North Korea’s denuclearization. He has stated in the past that the second US-North Korea summit is needed, as Pyongyang has failed to hold up its end of the agreement reached at the first Trump-Kim summit in June last year.

The conversation between Moon and Trump was held late Tuesday, during which Moon conveyed his willingness to launch inter-Korean projects, such as the reconnection of rail and road networks, as “corresponding measures” the US could offer Pyongyang, if requested by the US leader. According to Moon’s spokesperson, the US president had responded positively to the suggestion.

However, Moon’s offer has been criticized by South Korean conservatives, who accuse Moon of being too eager to engage the North.

In contrast to Bolton, Trump has voiced characteristically optimistic views on his role and the outlook of talks, saying he believes Kim wants change and that North Korea has the potential to become an economic powerhouse if full denuclearization is achieved.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Trump hinted that sanctions could be eased, provided that the North does “something that’s meaningful.”

Trump was also quoted as saying that he does not believe Pyongyang is reluctant to denuclearize, adding that he believes that significant developments are possible at the summit.

The US leader, however, said the Hanoi summit is unlikely to be the last US-North Korea meeting, hinting at additional summits.

By Choi He-suk (