Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 July 2019

US envoy: more work needed before Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam

US special representative to North Korea held three days of talks in Pyongyang as countries prepare for their leaders' second meeting

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun meets South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa in Seoul on February 9, 2019. AFP
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun meets South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa in Seoul on February 9, 2019. AFP

There is still some hard work to be done ahead of the upcoming summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Washington's envoy said on Saturday.

Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, said three days of preparatory talks in Pyongyang that ended on Friday had been productive, but more dialogue was needed ahead of the summit scheduled for Vietnam from February 27-28.

Mr Biegun briefed South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa on his visit on Saturday and confirmed the summit would be held in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

"We have some hard work to do with the DPRK," Mr Biegun told Mr Kang, adding: "I'm confident that if both sides stay committed we can make real progress here.

"We don't know where it's going to go, but we are in the midst of a conversation ... our discussions were productive."

Mr Kang told Mr Biegun that the US had South Korea's "full support" for the summit.

The US State Department said Mr Biegun would meet Pyongyang officials again before the Trump-Kim talks

Mr Trump announced Hanoi as the summit venue in a tweet earlier on Friday, saying: "I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim and advancing the cause of peace."

At their landmark summit in Singapore last year, the mercurial US and North Korean leaders produced a vaguely worded document in which Mr Kim pledged to work towards "the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

But progress has since stalled, with the two sides disagreeing over what that means.

Experts say tangible progress on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons will be needed for the second summit if it is to avoid being dismissed as "reality TV".

Mr Trump also tweeted that North Korea would become a "great economic powerhouse" under Kim.

"He may surprise some but he won't surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is," he said.

Updated: February 9, 2019 05:36 PM

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