US envoy back from North Korea after talks on Trump-Kim summit
SEOUL, Feb 8, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The special US envoy for North Korea
returned to Seoul on Friday after talks with North Korean officials in
Pyongyang to set up the agenda for the second summit between President Donald
Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Stephen Biegun’s three-day trip was expected to have explored a wide range
of denuclearisation issues in preparation for the much-anticipated summit in
Vietnam on February 27 and 28.
Biegun landed at Osan US Air Base Friday evening, foreign ministry
spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told AFP.
It is not yet known whether Biegun met with Kim, with North Korean media
silent on his visit. He is expected to share details of his Pyongyang
meetings with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon and Foreign Minister
Kang Kyung-wha on Saturday.
Attention will be on whether the US team have offered to lift some
economic sanctions in return for Pyongyang taking concrete steps towards
Discussions on declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War could also have
been on the table, with Biegun last week saying Trump was “ready to end this
The three-year conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving
the two Koreas still technically at war, with the US keeping 28,500 troops in
The US envoy was also likely to have discussed protocol and security
matters for the upcoming Trump-Kim summit with his North Korean counterpart
Kim Hyok Chol.
Ahead of his trip, the State Department said Biegun’s meetings with Kim
Hyok Chol would “advance further progress on the commitments the president
and Chairman Kim made in Singapore: complete denuclearisation, transforming
US-DPRK relations and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula”.
At their landmark summit in Singapore last year, the mercurial US and
North Korean leaders produced a vaguely-worded document in which Kim pledged
to work towards “the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”
But progress has since stalled with the two sides disagreeing over what
Experts say tangible progress on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons will be
needed for the second summit if it is to avoid being dismissed as “reality