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Donald Trump confirms historic summit with Kim Jong-un is back on for June 12

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AFTER a week of backflipping and uncertainty, US President Donald Trump has confirmed that his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is back on.

The meeting is scheduled for June 12.

Speaking after an Oval Office meeting with top-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong-chol today, President Trump said it would be mistake not to go forward with the on-again, off-again nuclear summit in Singapore.

He told reporters that he predicts talks with North Korea will “be a process” but will ultimately be “successful”, indicating that the rogue regime wants to denuclearise.

President Trump praised his meeting with the most senior North Korean to visit the White House in 18 years, saying that lasted longer than expected and it “went very well”, without immediately disclosing its contents. He said that Kim Yong-chol, was “very nice” and “very interesting”.

However, he added that the June 12 summit will just be “a beginning.”

“The process will begin on June 12 in Singapore,” he said.

For the time being, Mr Trump said he won’t impose any additional sanctions on the regime, saying “we had hundreds of new sanctions ready to go”. He promised he won’t impose them “until the talks break down”.

Kim Yong-chol became the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit in 18 years when he arrived to meet with President Trump today.

He was greeted by White House chief of staff John Kelly, who brought him inside the White House to meet the president.

Kim Yong-chol was expected to hand deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, to Mr Trump.

The letter came as the two countries were working to revive the Trump-Kim summit on June 12 in Singapore.

Kim Yong-chol, who was previously black-listed by the US because of his role in his country’s military establishment, is the most senior North Korean visitor to the United States since Vice Marshal Jo Myong-rok visited Washington in 2000 to meet President Bill Clinton.

Kim Yong-chol was driven from New York to Washington a day after talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on preparations for the June 12 encounter.

Both sides have committed themselves to the “denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula, but it is far from clear if Mr Trump’s mission to secure Pyongyang’s complete disarmament can be aligned with Kim Jong-un’s quest to win international respect and protection.

After Thursday’s talks, Mr Pompeo expressed confidence that the process was moving in the right direction, but warned that the North’s young leader must be bold enough to make a “strategic shift” in understanding that he will be safer without nuclear weapons.

On the same day in Pyongyang, the North Korean leader told Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that his commitment to denuclearisation remains “unchanged and consistent and fixed,” but experts warn that he will likely seek deep concessions from Washington.

In particular, he wants a formal end to the Korean conflict and is likely to seek international recognition and guarantees against any strike by the US forces stationed across the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in South Korea.

The delivery of the letter from Kin Jong-un comes only a week after Mr Trump threatened to consign the entire process to history, abruptly cancelling the summit in a sharply-worded letter, only to revive preparations a day later.

Since that short-lived crisis, diplomats from both countries have conducted an intense flurry of talks, culminating this week when Mr Pompeo sat down in New York with Kim Jong-un’s envoy.

“It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong-un if we were able to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to change the course for the world,” Mr Pompeo said.

“President Trump and I believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those kind of decisions, and in the coming weeks and months, we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case.”

Mr Pompeo also said that, after what have now been two meetings with Kim Jong-un and three with Kim Yong-chol, he believes the North is at least ready to consider addressing US demands for denuclearisation.

“I believe they are contemplating a path forward. They can make a strategic shift. One that their country has not been prepared to make before. This will obviously be their decision,” he said.

US officials now expect the summit to go ahead, but they want Pyongyang to accept that nuclear disarmament be at the heart of the discussion — and warn there can be no end to sanctions without it.

Asked whether the answer would come in the letter, Mr Pompeo said he did not know but added: “We have made real progress in the last 72 hours toward setting the conditions.”

“The conditions are putting President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in a place where we think there could be real progress made by the two of them meeting,” he said.

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