Trump to hold 2nd nuclear summit with North Korea's Kim

U.S. President Donald Trump is to hold a second summit with the leader of North Korea near the end of February to try to coax the North to give up its nuclear program.

Donald Trump had his first, historic meeting with Kim Jong-un last June in Singapore

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un walks with U.S. President Donald Trump during a break in talks at their historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore last June. Trump and Kim are slated to hold a second summit next month. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump is to hold a second summit with the leader of North Korea near the end of February to try to coax the North to give up its nuclear program.

The announcement came at the White House Friday after Trump met with a North Korean envoy.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump met for 90 minutes with Kim Yong Chol to discuss denuclearization and a second summit. She called the meeting "productive" and said the president looks forward to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at a place to be announced at a later date.

"The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see fully and verified denuclearization," Sanders said "We've had very good steps and good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves. And so we're going to continue those conversations and the president looks forward to the next meeting."

Trump had his first, historic meeting with Kim last June in Singapore and reached a vague denuclearization agreement, but little tangible progress has been made since. So far, no details have been publicly released about how denuclearization could occur.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said earlier Friday that "it's high time" for serious negotiations on decnuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

The UN chief told a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on Friday that a roadmap would allow both sides "to know exactly what the next steps will be and to have predictability in the way negotiations take place."

Guterres said it's "important for the two parties to come together in an effective way."

U.S. still awaiting 'concrete steps'

Since the first summit, several private analysts have published reports detailing continuing North Korean development of nuclear and missile technology. A planned meeting between Pompeo and the envoy, who is North Korea's former spy chief, in New York last November was called off abruptly. U.S. officials said at the time that North Korea had canceled the session.

The talks have stalled over North Korea's refusal to provide a detailed accounting of its nuclear and missile facilities that would be used by inspectors to verify any deal to dismantle them.

The North has demanded that the U.S. end harsh economic penalties and provide security guarantees before the it  takes any steps beyond its initial suspension of nuclear and missile tests.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the U.S. is still awaiting "concrete steps" by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region."

Trump has offered assurances that a second summit could allow the two leaders to seal a deal resolving the nuclear standoff and improving a relationship marked by decades of animosity and mistrust since the Korean War.

China encouraging negotiations

Kim expressed frustration in an annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations. But on a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit "to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community," according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

Kim's latest trip to China, his fourth since last year, came as the North's strongest ally has encouraged negotiations with the U.S. while at the same time arguing in favour of immediate easing of sanctions.

The U.S. and North Korea seemed close to war at points during 2017. The North staged a series of weapon tests that brought it closer to its nuclear goal of one day being able to target anywhere on the U.S. mainland. The two sides then turned to insulting each other: Trump called Kim "Little Rocket Man" and North Korea said Trump was a "dotard."

Kim abruptly turned to diplomacy with Seoul and Washington last year, possibly fearing economic harm from the penalties imposed over the weapon tests.

Still, even after the Singapore summit, the first between U.S. and North Korean leaders, there has been little real progress in nuclear disarmament.

Independent analysts are highly skeptical that North Korea will easily abandon a nuclear arsenal constructed in the face of deep poverty and probably seen by Kim as his only guarantee of his government's survival.

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