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(2nd LD) U.S. officials cross into N. Korea for summit preparations: report

All Headlines 23:54 May 27, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more details)

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- A group of U.S. officials crossed the inter-Korean border to North Korea on Sunday for talks to prepare for a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong-un, a report said.

Sung Kim, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and ex-nuclear negotiator, led the U.S. team for working-level talks with North Korea, The Washington Post reported.

The former ambassador crossed the border to meet with Choe Son-hui, North Korea's vice foreign minister, who prompted Trump on Thursday to announce the cancellation of a summit with Kim scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, the report said.

The U.S. team traveled to Tongilgak, a building inside the truce village of Panmunjom, to talk about the substance of a potential Trump-Kim meeting. Washington wants to see Pyongyang commit to a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program.

The meetings are expected to continue Monday and Tuesday.

The U.S. side also includes Allison Hooker, director for Korea on the White House National Security Council, and a Pentagon official. Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, is in Seoul, but it could not be confirmed whether he is the Pentagon official on the team, according to the report.

The move came one day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's leader held a surprise second summit on the northern side of Panmunjom, the second meeting in a month.

At the summit, Kim reaffirmed his willingness to denuclearize and hold a summit with Trump, Moon said Sunday.

Trump said Saturday that he is still considering meeting with Kim on June 12 as originally planned.
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