Trump to visit South Korea as new hope arises for talks with North
SEOUL/WASHINGTON: United States President Donald Trump will visit South Korea this weekend after an exchange of letters with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boosted hopes for talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programme.
Mr Trump is set to arrive in South Korea for a two-day visit on Saturday, and will meet President Moon Jae-in on Sunday, following a summit of G20 leaders in Japan, Mr Moon's spokesman Ko Min-jung said.
The announcement comes hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped a letter Mr Trump sent to Mr Kim could pave the way for a revival of stalled nuclear talks.
Mr Pompeo, who spoke of Mr Trump's letter to Mr Kim before departing from Washington for the Middle East, said the US was ready to resume talks with North Korea immediately.
"I'm hopeful that this will provide a good foundation for us to begin ... these important discussions with the North Koreans," Mr Pompeo told reporters.
Japanese media reported over the weekend that Mr Trump may go to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. He wanted to visit the zone during a 2017 trip to South Korea but heavy fog prevented it.
A former South Korean Unification Minister, Mr Chung Se-hyun, who has advised Mr Moon on relations with North Korea, said in a radio interview yesterday that it was possible for Mr Trump to meet Mr Kim in the DMZ.
Mr Kim and Mr Moon held their historic first summit in the DMZ last year.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim held their first ground-breaking summit in Singapore in June last year, agreeing to establish new relations and work towards the denuclerisation of the Korean peninsula.
But a second summit in Vietnam in February collapsed when the two sides were unable to bridge differences between US demands for denuclerisation and North Korean demands for sanctions relief.
With talks stalled, tension mounted last month when the North test-fired a series of short-range ballistic missiles, though Mr Trump and South Korea both played down the tests.
One June 11, Mr Trump said he had received a very warm, "beautiful" letter from Mr Kim, adding he thought something positive would happen.
North Korea's state news agency KCNA said on Sunday that Mr Kim had received a letter from Mr Trump, which he described as being "of excellent content".
KCNA said Mr Kim "would seriously contemplate the interesting content". - REUTERS