North Korea differences over denuclearization remain ‘significant,’ South Korean official says

North Korea differences over denuclearization remain ‘significant,’ South Korean official says

Discussing a possible meeting with Kim in the US, Trump said any summit must have "a hamburger on a conference table" instead of a state banquet.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, exits a residential building after meeting with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, on Wednesday. His arrival at Beijing's main airport and departure to NY were confirmed by Kyodo News.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

The disclosure of the alleged offshore transfer comes as preparations for an expected summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared to be in their final stages.

Asked what the regime would have to do for the summit to go ahead, a senior state department official said: "Between now and if we're going to have a summit, they're going to have to make clear what they're willing to do". "They still face a major gap in their respective positions, but I think there is more than a 50-50 chance the summit will take place on time in Singapore".

"We are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12 and if not", she said, "we'll be ready on July 12".

Early Tuesday the president tweeted that he had received a "solid response" from representatives of North Korea following his letter cancelling the June summit.

He held talks with Pompeo in North Korea in April and May, during which they agreed to proceed with preparations for the summit.

Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, "are trying to get to know each other" following their two initial meetings this year in North Korea, said the USA official who asked not to be identified.

As the two were meeting, so were lower-level US and North Korean diplomats - both in Singapore, the planned venue for the historic summit, and at the Koreas border.

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There were reports earlier on Wednesday that South Korean officials were noting "quite significant" differences between the United States and North Korea over denuclearization.

Representatives of the USA and North Korea are also believed to have resumed their meeting Tuesday at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom.

The summit, planned since April, was called off just a week ago by Trump amid a renewed round of heated rhetoric from Pyongyang and concerns over whether North Korea was honest about "denuclearization". "We're looking at June 12 in Singapore".

The Trump administration, according to US officials, has left open the possibility of North Korea eventually getting USA aid and investments if Pyongyang agrees to complete denuclearization.

He also coordinated Kim Jong Un's two meetings with Pompeo in Pyongyang.

Trump has sworn not to allow North Korea to develop nuclear missiles that could hit the United States and wants North Korea to "denuclearize", or get rid of its nuclear arms.

Tensions were calmed after Kim extended an olive branch by offering to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, sparking a rapid détente that led to Trump agreeing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang.

Kim's journey to the USA caps a frenetic few days of meetings between North Korean and American officials. On whether Kim had also been approved to travel to a USA location other than NY, she said, "additional waivers" or "some sort of an approval" would be needed for that.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also expressed optimism about a nuclear summit.

Pompeo returns to Washington on Thursday.

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