US and North Korea officials hold working meeting ahead of second Trump-Kim summit

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump
Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump
Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

US special representative Stephen Beigun will meet with his North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok Chol in an undisclosed country to prepare for the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam later this month. Secrecy surrounds the actual date but it is expected to be within the next 72 hours.

Beigun wants “a set of concrete deliverables” for the Vietnam Summit. This means a clear timeline for complete North Korean denuclearisation. In return, the US is likely considering major economic aid, as Trump hinted at on February 8. There has also been talk of a formal end to the Korean War—a key Pyongyang demand before further commitments on denuclearisation are confirmed.

The problem is the US is sceptical that North Korea will fully and completely disband its nuclear weapons. Intelligence assessments suggest Pyongyang is only after partial denuclearisation in exchange for US and international concessions.

Regardless, a formal agreement to end the war may be reached although US troop withdrawal is off-the-table for now. Trump is likely keen on a “win” after a bruising Congressional fight over border security, so if a timeline can be agreed for even partial denuclearisation at this stage, it may be good enough for Washington.

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