US envoy leaves Seoul for Pyongyang to finalize new Trump-Kim summit

US President Donald J. Trump (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) stroll together through the grounds of the Capella Hotel after their working lunch during the historic summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore, 12 June 2018(reissued 06 February 2019). According to South Korean media reports, a second summit is planned for US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam from 27 to 28 February 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/KEVIN LIM / THE STRAITS TIMES

SEOUL.- The US special representative for North Korea traveled from Seoul to Pyongyang on Wednesday to meet with senior officials of the North Korean regime to finalize the details of the second summit between the leaders of both countries.

The US special representative, Stephen Biegun, is scheduled to hold a meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Hyok-chol, to finalize their agreements on the summit, which US president Donald Trump announced in his State of the Union address in Washington DC will be held on Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam.

It will be the second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who already met last June in Singapore.

On Feb. 3, the US State Department had announced the visit of Biegun to Pyongyang. «From our side, we are prepared to discuss many actions that could help build trust between our two countries and advance further progress in parallel on the Singapore summit objectives of transforming relations, establishing a permanent peace regime on the peninsula, and complete denuclearisation,» Biegun said.

The US envoy started a three-day trip to Korea on Feb. 3 to finalize the preparations for the summit, and although initially expected to meet with his North Korean counterpart on the border between North and South Korea, the meeting will finally take place in the capital of North Korea.

Biegun left for Pyongyang by military plane from the US Osan Air base, south of Seoul, according to Yonhap News agency.

The US envoy already visited Pyongyang last October, together with US Secretary of State ,Mike Pompeo, to try to unblock negotiations on denuclearization with the regime.

His visit coincides with the conclusions published by US media on a new United Nations report on the status of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which «remain intact,» according to the document.

UN experts believe that the regime would have dispersed its missile assembly and testing facilities to avoid pre-emptive strikes, after Pyongyang pledged to dismantle some of its plants and nuclear test sites, according to diplomatic sources.

At their first summit in Singapore in June, Kim and Trump agreed to work for the denuclearisation of the regime in exchange for Washington guaranteeing its survival, but the process has shown little progress in the absence of a roadmap.

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