Pompeo hopeful N. Korea talks will take place

Former South Korean National-Security Adviser: The US May Have to Withdraw Some Troops

Former South Korean National-Security Adviser: The US May Have to Withdraw Some Troops

Eight South Korean journalists arrived in North Korea on Wednesday by government plane to cover the dismantlement of its nuclear test facilities expected later this week.

When North Korea announced it would dismantle the Punggy-ri site, it said it would invite media from five countries including South Korea to watch, but it didn't respond to South Korea's notifications of which journalists would attend until Wednesday morning.

Punggye-ri has been the site of all six of the North's nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September past year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb. The event is scheduled to take place from Wednesday to Friday.

Ahead the most awaited meeting between N Korea leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump in June, North Korea vowed that it would close its Punggye-ri test site and halt nuclear weapons and missile tests. The unprecedented meeting is set to take place in Singapore on June 12.

"We hope for an early realization of complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through a North Korea-U.S. summit and dialogue of various levels, starting with the abolition of the nuclear test site", ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a news briefing.

"There are certain conditions that we want", Mr Trump said.

However, North Korea has threatened to cancel the meeting over a joint US-South Korea military exercise.

The report was delivered to Congress in April, one month after Trump agreed to meet Kim to discuss the North's denuclearization.

But as the date draws near, Trump's divergence from his top aides, the differences between the two sides and these high stakes are coming into sharp relief.

Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrence until it feels safe from what is sees as USA aggression. "And there is the overlapping of the North Korean negotiators dealing with Seoul and Washington".

Previous similar gestures by the North have been rapidly reversed when the worldwide mood soured. "What (the U.S.) should be doing in the summit is insisting on having experts come in to make sure the sites are dismantled properly".

The spokesman said that the journalists will depart for the North's eastern city of Wonsan at 12:30 p.m. from an airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, flying on a hastily arranged state-owned airplane and returning home together with other foreign reporters via Beijing.

South Korean soldiers take down a propaganda loudspeakers on the border with North Korea on May 1, 2018 in Paju, South Korea.

The invitation to witness the dismantling of the Punggye-ri site was seen as an indication that North Korea's unexpected offer to end its nuclear tests still held despite renewed diplomatic uncertainty.

From there they are expected to travel for some 20 hours up the east coast by train and bus to the remote test site - a vivid illustration of the impoverished country's notoriously decrepit transport infrastructure.

The North had declined to accept the list of South Korean reporters for days without providing any reason or explanation, giving rise to speculation that the foot-dragging might have to do with somewhat cooled relations between the two Koreas after the North's abrupt cancellation of inter-Korean talks scheduled for last week.

On Seoul's streets Wednesday, South Koreans were divided on whether they thought Pyongyang was honest.

Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas division of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), made his remarks in the wake of Mr Trump's comments on the issue last week.

"You never know about deals", he said.

"He doesn't think he needs to", said a senior administration official familiar with the President's preparation.

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