U.S. President Donald Trump's immediate willingness to meet Kim Jong Un for nuclear talks likely caught the North Korean leader by surprise, forcing him to consider his position before responding publicly, the South Korean foreign minister said.
A top North Korean diplomat is headed to Finland on Sunday for talks with the United States and South Korea.
The invitation was relayed to Trump at an impromptu White House meeting March 6 by South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who previously had met with Kim.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono met with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung Wha in the US capital on Saturday morning.
Choe Kang Il, a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, plans to attend the "track 1.5 talks", according to Yonhap, reflecting planned contact between former U.S. officials and current North Korean ones in a broader bid to end the standoff over North Korea's weapons programmes.
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The Central Intelligence Agency has taken the lead on organizing potential discussions between the USA and North Korea, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Since the announcement, North Korea has fallen silent, raising questions about the summit's certainty.
"We agreed on the need to resolve the abduction issue", Kono told journalists after the talks.
The Ministry has not divulged the agenda or participants of the meeting, but says that the talks are not of a top-level political nature and that Finland is working only as an "academic" and "routine" facilitator for the meet.
The statement also said the two officials discussed "opportunities and challenges for continued diplomatic efforts".
Choe Kang-il, deputy director-general for North American affairs at the North Korean foreign ministry, was spotted in Beijing Sunday on his way to Finland.
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In a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump expressed "cautious optimism" over recent developments regarding North Korea.
That means Kim has given his word, Kang said.
But no specific time or venue has been set and North Korea has yet to confirm it even made the offer to meet. "North Korean summit" when he meets with the North Korean leader in April.
Choe was also in the delegation that North Korea sent to last month's Winter Olympics in South Korea.
"I think this is a concern not just for the United States but for South Korea as well", she added.
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According to the reports, Choe Kang Il, who is responsible for relations with the USA at the North Korea Foreign Ministry, will arrive here on Sunday on a two-day visit, reports Xinhua news agency.