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US, North Korea talks moving on ‘smoothly’

Washington DC, Monday

The US says its discussions with North Korea are moving “more quickly than expected” ahead of the joint summit in Singapore on Tuesday.

The preliminary talks between officials have been taking place ahead of the highly anticipated first meeting. The White House also confirms that President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will hold a one-on-one meeting, with only translators present.

Trump will then leave the country that same evening. Earlier, North Korean state media talked about a “new relationship” with the US.

And the US has said it will offer North Korea “unique” security assurances in return for denuclearisation, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He insisted the US would accept nothing less than complete denuclearisation.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who met Trump and Kim separately on Sunday evening, told the BBC that both leaders were feeling “supremely confident”.

The US president and North Korean leader are staying in separate hotels, not far from each other, and will meet on Tuesday at a hotel on Sentosa, a popular tourist island a few hundred metres off the main island of Singapore.

Trump has said he has a “good feeling” about Tuesday’s much-anticipated summit. Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s top diplomat, said that the president was fully prepared for his meeting with Kim Jong-un.

He said the US would be satisfied with nothing less than the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula – with verification the key part of any deal.

The US was prepared to offer certainty to North Korea so they could be “comfortable that denuclearisation isn’t something that ends badly for them”. He would not be drawn on what might be on offer.

Pompeo stressed that economic sanctions would remain in place “until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programmes”.

Highly unusually, North Korea’s state-run media are already reporting on Kim’s trip to Singapore to meet Trump. As a rule, they would only report on the leader’s movements after the event.

An editorial in Rodong Sinmun confirmed that Kim had travelled to Singapore to meet Trump and that “we will establish a new relationship to meet the changing demands of the new era”. — BBC

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