South Korean Leader to Meet with Trump in US on Nuke Diplomacy

US President Donald Trump (R) looks on as South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a bilateral meeting in New York on September 24, 2018, a day before the start of the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in will travel to the United States in two weeks for a summit with President Donald Trump on stalemated North Korean nuclear diplomacy.

It would be their first meeting since Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi last month collapsed due to disputes on U.S.-led sanctions. The breakdown of that summit put Moon, a liberal who has shuttled between Washington and Pyongyang, in a difficult position on how to further engage North Korea and facilitate the nuclear diplomacy.

Moon’s office said Moon will visit the United States on April 10-11 discuss how to strengthen their countries’ alliance and achieve North Korea’s complete denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The White House said Trump and first lady Melania Trump will welcome Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook to the White House on April 11. It said in a statement the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea “remains the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.”

Earlier this month, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to pull out of the nuclear negotiations with the United States citing a lack of its corresponding steps to match some disarmament measures North Korea took last year. She said Kim would soon decide whether to continue the talks and his moratorium on nuclear and missile tests.

North Korea later withdrew its entire staff at a liaison office with South Korea before sending some of them back to the office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong. North Korea hasn’t provided any reason for its action.

Some experts say North Korea still hopes to keep diplomacy with the United States alive because it is desperate to win sanctions relief to revive its trouble economy.

Moon’s push to expand ties with North Korea and resume dormant inter-Korean economic projects is in doubt as U.S. officials maintain that sanctions on North Korea would stay in place unless the country takes significant denuclearization steps.

In a possible reflection of its resolve to press ahead with its engagement policy on North Korea, South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Friday reiterated its position that it will push to hold a regular summit with North Korea and realize Kim’s promise to travel to Seoul.

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