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19 January 2019, 12:42 | Tara Lloyd
US, N Korea to hold talks this week after nuclear standoff - media
The meeting, led by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, is due on Thursday or Friday, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified diplomatic source familiar with the issue.
Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief, arrived at Beijing airport and was booked to leave on a flight for Washington with two other North Korean officials later in the day, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.
US -based analysts said that the North Koreans would likely be seeking a clearer message from the Trump administration on any concessions it may be willing to make.
They say the North Koreans are holding out for a second summit because they believe they can extract greater concessions by meeting with Trump directly, as opposed to working with envoys like Pompeo or Biegun.
Last week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in threw his support behind another Trump-Kim meeting, saying it would be a turning point "that will firmly solidify peace on the Korean Peninsula".
Trump's announcement of receiving a letter from Kim had come after the North Korean leader warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.
Trump has repeatedly voiced eagerness to see Kim Jong-un again after their landmark June summit in Singapore, the first meeting ever between sitting leaders from the two countries that never formally ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Diplomatic contact was resumed after Kim Jong-Un delivered a New Year speech in which he said he was willing to meet Mr Trump "at any time", South Korea's ambassador to the United States, Cho Yoon-je, told reporters last week.
Personnel exchanges between the two Koreas have increased sharply since North Korea abruptly began talks early a year ago with a vague promise of denuclearization.
"The North Koreans need a real indication of what the USA is willing to put on the table", said Jenny Town, a North Korea expert at 38 North, a Washington-based think tank.
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Kim Yong-chol was expected to stay in the USA for two days, but it has emerged that he has booked his return flight for Saturday afternoon.
A source familiar with the matter said Kim will travel to Vietnam for an official state visit after the February 4-8 Lunar New Year.
The White Paper's evaluation of North Korea's nuclear capabilities remains the same as that of 2016.
The document also assessed that the North has a "considerable amount of highly enriched uranium", an ingredient that gives North Korea a second route to manufacture nuclear weapons along with its stockpile of 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of weaponized plutonium, which civilian experts say is enough for at least eight bombs.
"South Korea and the USA are closely coordinating for the next working group video conference", Noh Kyu-duk, the ministry's spokesman, told a regular press briefing. Proper form, however, would have two heads of state meeting only when there is some agreement to conclude in place.
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