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Trump to meet S. Korea's Moon on May 22 ahead of US-N. Korea summit

U.S, President Donald Trump, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (AP)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Washington on May 22 ahead of a planned U.S.-North Korea summit to occur by early June, the White House said Friday.

Trump and Moon will coordinate the two allies' North Korea policy prior to the upcoming meeting between Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un during which they will discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier Friday, Trump said the date and location of what will be the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit will be announced soon.

"We now have a date and we have a location. We'll be announcing it soon," he told reporters, without providing details.

Trump has expressed his preference to hold a summit with Kim at the truce village of Panmunjeom where Kim and Moon met in late April. The U.S. leader said he was also considering a third-party country such as Singapore.

Trump also said Friday the withdrawal or reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea is "not on the table" in his talks with Kim, in response to a news report that he has ordered the Defense Department to prepare options for drawing down U.S. troops in South Korea.

"Troops are not on the table. Absolutely," the president said.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton and Chung Eui Yong, director of South Korea's National Security Office, reaffirmed that there are no plans to change the bilateral defense posture in South Korea, according to the White House.

Meeting in Washington on Friday, Bolton and Chung started preparations for the Trump-Moon meeting to be held at the White House.

With a Trump-Kim summit approaching, Bolton and Chung "agreed to maintain frequent communication in the coming weeks," the White House said.

Meanwhile, Bolton dismissed a New York Times report on the possible rollback of U.S. troops in South Korea as "utter nonsense."

"The president has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea," he said in a statement.

Quoting officials briefed on the deliberations, the report said reduced troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump's talks with Kim, but that a peace treaty between North and South Korea could diminish the need for the 28,500 U.S. troops currently stationed in the South.

In an inter-Korean summit in late April, Kim and Moon pledged to work for the "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They also agreed to work toward declaring an end to the 1950-1953 Korean War and turning the armistice into a peace treaty.

The two Koreas remain technically at war because the conflict ended in a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty.

Speaking to journalists Friday, Trump said Washington is having "very substantive talks" with Pyongyang, and that "a lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages. And I think you're going to see very good things," referring to three Americans detained in North Korea. The detainees are expected to be freed prior to the Trump-Kim meeting.

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