Foreign media head to N.Korea to witness nuclear site shutdown

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump is blaming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for changing the scope of their summit talks planned for next month (June) and will doubtless air his frustrations when he meets with South Korean President Moon Jae In in Washington on Tuesday (May 22).

Trump's newfound hesitation appeared to reflect recent setbacks in efforts to bring about reconciliation between the two Koreas, as well as concern whether the self-proclaimed dealmaker can deliver a nuclear accord with the North's Kim Jong Un. Could it turn into an embarrassment?

Trump encouraged Kim to seize the opportunity for the meeting and to make a deal to abandon his nuclear program, pledging not only to guarantee Kim's personal security, but also predicting an economic revitalization for the North. But the president has reportedly spent the weekend agonizing over the decision. Pyongyang also canceled a high-level meeting with officials from Seoul. The White House turned heads this week with the release of a commemorative "challenge coin" for the summit, featuring profile engravings of Trump and Kim for the "peace talks".

The eight South Korean journalists were excluded because Pyongyang has cut off high-level contact with Seoul to protest an exercise with the US military - a protest the North's media reiterated Tuesday, saying saber-rattling and dialogue don't mix.

Neither Seoul nor Washington would comment on the details of the weekend conversation.

The national security adviser to President Moon Jae-in said that the summit nearly certainly will go ahead, despite signs to the contrary in recent days.

The meeting comes as reporters travel by plane from Beijing to North Korea to witness the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which North Korea has said will take place between May 23 and 25.

Trump and Moon "agreed to closely cooperate on the success of the U.S".

Robert E Kelly is a South Korean based expert
TWITTER/@ROBERT_E_KELLY SLAMMED Professor Robert E Kelly attacked Trump's policies in Korea

Observers in South Korea say no one should be surprised by all the conflicting signals. And the North threatened to abandon the planned Trump-Kim meeting over USA insistence on denuclearizing the peninsula, issuing a harshly worded missive that the White House dismissed as a negotiating ploy. Until last week, that is, when North Korea made clear it had no interest in unilateral nuclear abandonment and would reconsider proceeding with the summit if that was the condition.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, the US-North Korean summit in Singapore will go as planned despite new problems emerging on the Korean Peninsula.

"I have no doubt that you will be able to. accomplish a historic feat that no one had been able to achieve in the decades past", Moon said.

"If the USA is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and can not but reconsider our proceeding to the. summit", said a statement by Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's first vice minister of foreign affairs. About 28,000 American forces are based in South Korea.

"The important issue in the South Korea-U.S. summit is not the meeting itself, but the exchange of ideas between the two leaders on how best to keep the dialogue with North Korea going forward", Moon's top security adviser Chung Eui-yong told reporters.

The South Korea-U.S. summit follows a series of harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang that may have raised questions about its commitment to denuclearization. "That's Trump's negotiation strategy". But even some of his advisers worry he would settle for much less just for the sake of a deal he can flaunt, perhaps with the goal of a Nobel Peace Prize that, as he puts it, "everyone thinks" he deserves.

"Now he's riding a tiger that he can not control", he said. "It's not that North Korea rejects complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, but rather they need a tangible promise from Washington in return". Those sanctions continue for now, though Washington is anxious China has relaxed enforcement along the frontier between the two countries. The word is that recently the Border has become much more porous and more has been filtering in.

Merkel-Putin talks in Sochi very important
But rebel factions still control large parts of northwestern and southwestern Syria, while a Kurdish-led alliance backed by the United States holds most of the northeast.



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