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Trump, N. Korea's Kim to hold 2nd summit 'near end of Feb.': US

U. S. President Donald Trump, left, and NOrth Korean leader Kim Jong Un (AP)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, walk from a photo opportunity at the The Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, on Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "near the end of February" at a location to be announced at a later date, the White House said Friday.

The announcement came after Trump met with Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to leader Kim, in the Oval Office. The White House also said the United States will maintain sanctions on North Korea until it achieves full and verified denuclearization.

"The president looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date," Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, with Vietnam floated as the most likely summit venue.

The focus will be on whether Trump and Kim, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, can strike a deal to get North Korea to take concrete and credible measures to dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs under robust international verification.

The State Department said Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative to North Korea, will be in Sweden from Saturday to Tuesday, apparently to join North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui -- who is also visiting the country -- for talks on the upcoming summit.

Trump met Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the North Korean party's Central Committee, for an hour and a half to discuss a second summit and the denuclearization of North Korea, according to Sanders.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Biegun had talks with Kim Yong Chol at a Washington hotel.

The series of talks came as the two sides have remained apart over the process for North Korea to abandon its weapons programs despite Kim Jong Un pledging to work toward "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit last June in Singapore.

Despite the announcement of a second summit, the two sides have shown few signs of narrowing differences between the U.S. demand that North Korea dismantle its arsenal with international verification and Pyongyang's calls for a lifting of sanctions.

"The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see fully and verified denuclearization," Sanders told reporters after the meeting between Trump and the North Korean envoy.

On Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged that little progress has been made since Trump and leader Kim reached the vague denuclearization agreement in Singapore.

"While the president has started a promising dialogue with Chairman Kim, we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region," Pence said in an address at the State Department.

In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 8 in Beijing, Kim Jong Un said he will make efforts so a second U.S.-North Korea summit will "achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community," according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

In his New Year's address, Kim said he is ready to meet Trump at any time, and promised that North Korea will no longer make, test, use or proliferate nuclear weapons -- though he did not touch on the existing arsenal.

Kim also warned that he may have to seek a "new path" if the United States maintains sanctions and demands unilateral concessions.

Pompeo, who made several trips to Pyongyang last year, had planned to hold talks with Kim Yong Chol in November in New York regarding a second summit, but the talks were called off at the last minute.

Kim Yong Chol met with Trump at the White House on June 1 last year ahead of the June 12 summit. He became the first North Korean official to visit the White House since Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok met then-President Bill Clinton in 2000.

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