White House says United States 'continues to actively prepare' for summit

Kim Jong-un committed to complete denuclearisation, says Moon Jae-in after North-South 'surprise' summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's dispatch of a top lieutenant to the United States suggests that preparations for a meeting between him and President Donald Trump are in the final stages.

A USA official told the Journal on Monday that the White House had been set to announce the sanctions as soon as Tuesday but will now delay them indefinitely as negotiations with North Korea continue, reports The Hill.

The Trump administration has demanded North Korea completely and irreversibly shutter its nuclear weapons programme.

The conference had been scheduled for June 12 in the island nation, but Trump announced last week that he had chose to "terminate" the meeting following a provocative statement from the North and its decision to skip planning talks and ignore preparatory phone calls. It marks the latest sign that prospects for the summit are growing, just days after it was ostensibly called off by Trump, as teams of USA officials have arrived at the Korean demilitarized zone and in Singapore to prepare for the meeting.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday that Kim reaffirmed his commitment to "complete" denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in talks they had at a surprise meeting a day earlier at the demilitarised zone. Another U.S. delegation was in Singapore to work on logistics.

A team of US officials led by former USA nuclear negotiator Sung Kim began talks with North Korean officials at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on Sunday to set the agenda for the summit.

Their talks will be aimed at determining whether a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un, originally scheduled for June 12 but later canceled by Trump, can be restored, US officials have said.

USA and North Korean officials have been continuing preparations for the possible summit. USA and North Korean officials held preliminary talks at the Korean border and were expected to hold a separate set of working-level meetings in Singapore to discuss protocol, security and other logistical issues for the summit.

Trump's tweet offered praise for the longtime USA adversary, and the latest signal that his concerns about the North's stance toward the summit have been allayed.

Pompeo and Kim met during the secretary of state's two trips to Pyongyang in April and May.

He sat next to Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is also a White House aide, during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang which was a turning point in the nuclear crisis.

Washington is looking for signs that Kim is ready to accept that talks must lead to him giving up his nuclear arsenal and if the letter is well received it will mark an extraordinary diplomatic turn-around. But less than 24 hours later, Trump said the June 12 meeting would still be possible. It's the highest-level official North Korean visit to the United States in 18 years. "Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this". "That hasn't changed. So, we'll see what happens".

While there have been a few instances in which countries were persuaded to abandon their nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief and compensation, none of the cases are directly applicable to North Korea, which has advanced its nukes further and with greater zeal than any of the others.

Since the 1970s, the United States and South Korea have been holding a major summertime exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian that involves tens of thousands of troops.

Their second meeting came after inter-Korean relations had chilled in recent weeks, with North Korea canceling a high-level meeting with Seoul over South Korea's participation in a two-week military exercise with the United States that ended last week. South Korea's Defense Ministry said Tuesday there have been no discussions yet between Washington and Seoul on modifying the drills, which usually take place in August.

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