Donald Trump: North Korea summit talks 'going very well'

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a surprise second meeting on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump called off his talks, set for June 12 in Singapore, before floating a reinstatement of the plan.

"Moon essentially helped relay messages from Trump to Kim and vice versa, to further smooth the process and to resume negotiations", he told AFP, saying the Singapore meeting was "clearly back on track".

Trump added that there was "a lot of good will" on the North Korean side, despite accusing North Korean officials of "tremendous anger and hostility" towards the United States just days ago. "That hasn't changed. It's moving along pretty well, so we'll see what happens", Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with a U.S. prisoner freed by Venezuela.

Mr Kim may see the sit-down with Mr Trump as necessary to easing pressure from crushing sanctions and to winning security assurances in a region surrounded by enemies.

Trump told pool reporters at the White House late Saturday that talks with North Korean officials about a potential summit to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula continue to go "very well" despite his statement this week calling such a meeting "inappropriate" at this time. He relayed Trump's desire to end hostile relations if North Korea "is resolute and implements complete denuclearization".

Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said Moon and Kim moved quickly to defuse the crisis after Trump's shock cancellation.

"He also expressed his intention to put an end to the history of war and confrontation through the success of the North-US summit and to cooperate for peace and prosperity", Moon told reporters on Sunday.

North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, later said the Korean leaders had agreed to "high-level" talks between the two countries on June 1.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump signalled that preparations for a 12 June summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called off the meeting last week.

Despite repeated references to "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" by the North, it remains unclear whether Kim will ever agree to fully abandon his nuclear arsenal. In addition to his summits with Moon and Xi, Kim also has had two meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Trump administration's main demand from North Korea is that it shut down its nuclear weapons program completely and irreversibly. Washington has made it clear it wants to see the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North.

The spontaneous offer by Kim to meet, and Moon's quick acceptance, shows how close the two leaders have become in a short period of time.

And on Saturday afternoon, the two leaders met again at the border village of Panmunjom, .

The White House said Trump dictated the letter himself.

Saturday's summit marks the fourth meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas since they were divided at the end of the World War II in 1945.

  • Joey Payne