(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)
SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Friday that the United States and North Korea may hold talks "sooner or later" to prepare for their second summit.
Kang made the remarks amid hopes that another summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will lead to a breakthrough in apparently deadlocked negotiations over Pyongyang's denuclearization.
"Given the recent developments, (I) cautiously predict that talks on preparations for the second North Korea-U.S. summit may take place sooner or later," Kang said during a lecture hosted by the ruling Democratic Party's panel on denuclearization.
In a pre-released script for the lecture, Kang wrote that she does not rule out the possibility of a sudden announcement on the second Trump-Kim summit. She did not read that part during the lecture, however.
Trump has recently said that the summit location will probably be announced "in the not-too-distant future." In his New Year's speech, Kim voiced his desire to meet the American president "anytime."
Kang also pointed out that there need to be "close communication and consultations" between the relevant countries ahead of a series of major diplomatic events, including the Trump-Kim summit and Kim's possible trip to Seoul.
Commenting on Kim's summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing this week, Kang said that the two leaders' latest meeting showed the close friendship between the communist allies and that it served to deepen their strategic communication ahead of Kim's summit with Trump.
Earlier this week, Kim made his fourth known trip to China since taking power in late 2011 for a summit with Xi. During the summit, Kim reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearization while the Chinese leader threw his weight behind Kim's pursuit of another summit with Trump.
As for Seoul's role in peace efforts, Kang noted the need to strive for "dramatic progress" in inter-Korean relations and efforts to denuclearize the peninsula when Kim makes an unprecedented trip to Seoul.
During his third summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang in September, Kim agreed to visit Seoul to reciprocate Moon's trip to the North. Seoul believes that Kim's visit, if realized, will facilitate peace efforts.
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