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Trump Says North Korea Summit Plans ‘Moving Along’ After Surprise Moon-Kim Meeting

By James Doubek NPR

Updated 2:55 a.m. ET Sunday

Hours after a surprise meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas aimed at shoring up diplomacy, President Trump seemed to keep hope alive for a summit with Kim Jong Un to go ahead as planned on June 12 in Singapore.

Speaking at the White House Saturday evening, Trump said plans for the summit were “going along very well.” He said meetings were ongoing and that the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula “would be a great thing for North Korea.”

“A lot of people are working on it. It’s moving along very nicely. We’re looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn’t changed. And it’s moving along pretty well, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said in the Oval Office Saturday.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House announced earlier Saturday that President Moon Jae-in had held a secret meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an effort to keep diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang alive.

“The two leaders frankly exchanged their opinions on implementing the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration [which the two struck in April at their first historic summit] and for the successful staging of a U.S.-NK summit,” Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.

This surprise meeting, on the North Korean side of the shared inter-Korean area of Panmunjom, comes after President Trump on Thursday abruptly scuttled a summit with Kim, planned for June 12 in Singapore. Trump cited “open hostility” from the North as his reason for backing out.

Trump backtracked less than 24 hours later, saying on Friday that a meeting with Kim is still possible for June 12.

South Korea, a longtime U.S. ally, was not notified before Trump’s letter canceling with Kim was made public on Thursday. But Moon has continued in recent days to hope the summit still comes to pass.

Moon’s office said a press conference is set for Sunday morning in Seoul. Photos released by the Blue House show Kim and Moon hugging and Kim’s propaganda chief and sister, Kim Yo Jong, greeting Moon.

Saturday’s meeting was only the fourth time — but the second in a month — that leaders from the North and South have met.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “the White House pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place.”

The team, led by Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, was to go to Singapore this weekend to meet with a North Korean team to make plans for the June 12 summit.

NPR news assistant Se Eun Gong contributed to this post.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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