US seeking second Trump-Kim meeting in New York — report

Administration officials quoted as saying North Korea would have to show denuclearization progress for September talks to be held

US President Donald Trump (right) reaches to shake hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump (right) reaches to shake hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump is reportedly seeking to hold a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in September, this time in New York.

Trump administration officials were quoted Monday by the Axios website as expressing hope a second round of discussions could be held at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, following last month’s landmark Singapore summit.

The report came amid increasing skepticism voiced by US intelligence officials about Kim’s pledge to denuclearize his country and mounting evidence the rogue regime was continuing to develop its missile and nuclear sites.

The officials said the North Korean dictator would have to show progress for the US to agree to the meeting, according to the report. They said one possibility under consideration was to use the meeting as an incentive, encouraging Pyongyang to deliver on its commitment to denuclearization.

On Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said the United States has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year.

Bolton said top US diplomat Mike Pompeo will be discussing that plan with North Korea in the near future. Bolton added that it would be to the North’s advantage to cooperate to see sanctions lifted quickly and aid from South Korea and Japan start to flow.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks during a press conference in Moscow, on June 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Yuri Kadobnov)

Bolton’s remarks on CBS’s “Face the Nation” appeared to be the first time the Trump administration had publicly suggested a timeline for North Korea to fulfill the commitment Kim made at the summit with Trump for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

But the Singapore meeting failed to clearly define denuclearization or produce a specific timeline toward dismantling the North’s atomic weapons arsenal.

Despite Trump’s rosy post-summit declaration that the North no longer poses a nuclear threat, Washington and Pyongyang have yet to negotiate the terms under which it would relinquish the weapons that it developed over decades to deter the US.

Doubts over North Korea’s intentions have deepened amid reports that it is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons.

The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported that fresh satellite images show North Korea has been upgrading a key missile-manufacturing site, including during the weeks leading up to Trump’s landmark meeting with Kim.

The report said the facility, located in the city of Hamnhung, makes solid-fuel and missiles that can hit US military bases in Asia, and equipment for warheads that could be used to strike American soil.

The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed US intelligence officials as concluding that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile. Evidence collected since the June 12 summit in Singapore points to preparations to deceive the US about the number of nuclear warheads in North Korea’s arsenal as well as the existence of undisclosed facilities used to make fissile material for nuclear bombs, according to the report.

It said the findings support a new, previously undisclosed Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize. Some aspects of the new intelligence were reported Friday by NBC News.

A US official told The Associated Press that the Post’s report was accurate and that the assessment reflected the consistent view across US government agencies for the past several weeks. The official was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.

The respected 38 North monitoring group said last week that not only were operations continuing at the North’s main Yongbyon nuclear site, it was also carrying out infrastructure works, citing recent satellite imagery.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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