South Koreans brief U.S. officials on landmark talks with North Korea's leader

From Reuters - March 8, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - South Korean envoys briefed American officials on Thursday on their unprecedented meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, while the U.S. secretary of state said that though talks about talks might be possible with Pyongyang, denuclearization negotiations were likely a long way off.

South Koreas National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon flew to Washington where they were expected to explain North Koreas stance on possible future talks with Washington and the prospect of Pyongyang suspending nuclear tests if the security of the Norths government is assured.

Chung, who led a South Korean delegation for a first-ever meeting with Kim on Monday, met U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at the White House, beginning a round of discussions with senior administration officials. A South Korean official said President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence might also join in.

The growing focus on diplomacy has helped ease fears of war in a standoff over North Koreas development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States, and put Washington under pressure to weigh the seriousness of Pyongyangs offer.

Speaking during a trip to Ethiopia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said South Korea was keeping the United States well informed, but suggested actual negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang would not happen for a long time.

In terms of direct talks with the United States ... were a long ways from negotiations, Tillerson told a news conference in Addis Ababa.

We just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it, Tillerson added. I think the first step ... is to have talks, have some kind of talks about talks, because I dont know yet, until we are able to meet, ourselves, face to face with representatives of North Korea, whether the conditions are right to even begin thinking about negotiations.

Tillerson repeated his call for African states to cut ties with North Korea. Pyongyang has more than a dozen embassies on the continent, and the Trump administration has said it earns hard currency from arms deals with African governments and trafficking wildlife parts from Africa.



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