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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

'North Korea has brilliant potential' says Trump, as US team arrives for summit arrangements

US and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom, a village in the Demilitarised Zone

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting on May 26, 2018 in Panmunjom, North Korea. South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting on May 26, 2018 in Panmunjom, North Korea. South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday a US team had arrived in North Korea to prepare for a proposed summit between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Mr Trump pulled out of last week before reconsidering.

Earlier, the US State Department said US and North Korean officials met at Panmunjom, a village in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that runs along the heavily armed border between North and South Korea.

"Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter, in Washington's first confirmation that US officials had entered North Korea for the talks.

"I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!" Mr Trump added.

In addition to those talks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said a "pre-advance team" left for Singapore – where the summit has been expected to take place – on Sunday morning to work on logistics.

Earlier on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he and North Korea's Mr Kim had agreed during a surprise meeting on Saturday that the North Korea-US summit must take place.

The weekend talks were the latest twist in a week of diplomatic ups and downs over the prospects for an unprecedented US-North Korea summit, and the strongest sign yet that the two Koreas' leaders are trying to keep the meeting on track.

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North Korea has faced years of economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.

The US has struggled to slow the isolated country's weapons programmes, which have become a security priority for Washington given Pyongyang's promise to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

In their meeting on Saturday, Mr Kim reaffirmed his commitment to "complete" denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and to a planned summit with Mr Trump, Mr Moon said in Seoul.

"Chairman Kim and I have agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully, and that our quest for the Korean Peninsula's denuclearisation and a perpetual peace regime should not be halted," Mr Moon said.

Mr Trump on Thursday scrapped the summit after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out over what it regarded as confrontational remarks by US officials demanding unilateral disarmament.

On May 16, North Korea criticised US national security adviser John Bolton, who had called for North Korea to quickly give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that would mirror Libya's abandonment of its programme for weapons of mass destruction.