Trump Set to Meet South Korea's Moon as Doubts Shroud Kim Summit

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North Korea last week withdrew from inter-Korean ministerial talks, blaming ongoing South Korea-U.S. air drills, Max Thunder, a turnaround from its previous position that it understood the need for joint exercises.

Neither Seoul nor Washington would comment on the details of the weekend conversation.

Another article lashed out at South Korean authorities for allowing defectors to send anti-North Korea leaflets across the border: "If the North-South relations face a grave difficulty again owing to the provocation of human scum, the blame for it will be entirely on the South Korean authorities", the report said.

The first big test of whether things are truly off track will come this week, when North Korea is due to destroy the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in full view of worldwide observers and journalists. He recently withdrew the USA from the worldwide Iran-nuclear deal - without outlining a path forward with his allies.

In this May 9, 2018, file photo provided by the North Korean government, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea. He said the worst-case scenario was canceling the meeting. He has not been deeply engaged in briefing materials on North Korea's nuclear program, said three people with knowledge of the White House efforts. He's also a graduate of the University of Waterloo.

Beyond ensuring Trump remains committed to the summit, Yun said Moon would do well to also provide "a dose of reality" about what it will take for North Korea to agree to denuclearize.

"I have no doubt that you will be able to. accomplish a historic feat that no one had been able to achieve in the decades past", Moon said.

The North's decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim Jong Un to set a positive tone ahead of his summit with Trump. About 28,000 American forces are based in South Korea.

In the intervening years, with diplomacy going nowhere, North Korea went on to test five more nuclear devices and develop missiles it said were capable of reaching the United States. Pyongyang insists the precondition for denuclearisation is for the U.S.to end its "hostile policy". But Trump also suggested Kim risks being overthrown and possibly death if the arsenal remains. But even some of his advisers worry he would settle for much less just for the sake of a deal he can flaunt, perhaps with the goal of a Nobel Peace Prize that, as he puts it, "everyone thinks" he deserves.

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Analysts say Moon will be looking to hold Trump to the diplomatic approach the South Korean leader has championed and invested considerable political capital in, amid heightening skepticism over the talks in Washington.

Another wild card in all of this is the role of China.

But North Korea has not invited any experts, such as those from the International Atomic Energy Agency, raising concern that the actual condition of the nuclear test site will not be known. Those sanctions continue for now, though Washington is anxious China has relaxed enforcement along the frontier between the two countries.

"We're 99.9 percent sure that the Singapore summit will take place, but we should be prepared for various possibilities", he said.

Indeed, the relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang seems much more amicable.

That positivity appears to have fallen off in the weeks since the summit, if only slightly.

North Korea says the process will involve collapsing all tunnels with explosions, completely blocking tunnel entrances, removing all observation and research facilities and taking down structures used for guarding the site.

Hong Min, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said it is North Korea's way of expressing its discomfort toward the US.

More fundamentally, it appears odd that the Trump administration does not recognize the contradiction between wanting to blow up the Iran nuclear deal and, at the same time, pressing North Korea to sign a nuclear deal. If Iran and Europe stick to the deal and figure out how to do OK without us, it may lead Kim Jong Un to conclude if he gets a peace treaty and the support of China there will be little the USA could do by tearing up a deal with him.

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