Secret, direct talks underway between US, North Korea

The Dangerous Work Of Spreading Christianity In North Korea

The U.S. and North Korea have reportedly been holding secret talks in preparation for President Donald Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

Quoting various US officials, the report said a team at the Central Intelligence Agency, led by its Director Mike Pompeo, has been working through back-channels to make arrangements for the high-profile talks. Once a location is agreed upon the officials said that the date will be set and the agenda discussed in greater detail.

Analysts echoed that the efforts show that the United States intelligence agencies are taking the lead for summit preparations, but expressed skepticism whether such moves were headed by the North's Reconnaissance General Bureau, which deals with clandestine operations against South Korea.

North Korea has confirmed directly to the Trump administration that it is willing to negotiate with the United States over potential denuclearisation, administration officials said.

The proposed meeting has been read as a sign of easing tensions, but it is not clear what will emerge from a meeting between the two leaders. During previous negotiations under different USA administrations, the North has agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of global economic sanctions, only to violate the agreement by testing more weapons.

Mr Pompeo is now awaiting confirmation as secretary of state in the coming weeks.

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The White House said Trump expected Kim to take concrete "steps" prior to the meeting. "If there were such talks, we think it's a positive move".

South Korea had conveyed a message from Kim indicating his willingness to pause his nuclear program during talks, but the USA had not previously confirmed Kim's intentions directly from North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing, China.

North Korea was "suffocating" under global sanctions, Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday, adding, "They need an out".

However, increased exercise was seen by satellite at a North Korean nuclear website in February, pics of which imply the North has begun preliminary testing of a newfound light water reactor and possibly attracted still another reactor online at its Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center.

North Korea's dictatorial regime has been fueling fears of World War 3 for years with its refusal to shut down either its nuclear or missile development programmes.

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