Second Summit with North Korea's Kim in Early 2019

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In August, Trump canceled Pompeo's planned trip to Pyongyang, citing a lack of progress in North Korea's denuclearization.

USA and foreign sources close to the talks paint a picture that's starkly different from the image President Donald Trump sought to convey Wednesday, when he told reporters the administration is "very happy with how it's going with North Korea".

North Korea has long sought U.S. recognition as a nuclear state and guarantees for the survival of the generational Kim regime, which human rights groups consider one of the most repressive in the world.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department said in a statement that Pompeo and Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun would meet with North Korea's vice chairman for the central committee Kim Yong-chol, a key aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on Thursday.

North Korea said last week that it would "seriously" consider returning to a state policy aimed at building nuclear weapons unless Washington lifts sanctions. At the time, Kim also traveled to Washington to deliver a personal letter from the North Korean leader to Trump at the White House.

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Kim raised hope for a meeting between Pompeo and Kim in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The statement did not threaten to end nuclear negotiations, however, and the North Koreans are said to still be pursuing a second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.

But the growing divide between the USA and South Korea also has many concerned, as liberal President Moon Jae-in pushes for closer Korean ties including demilitarizing the border and increasing economic cooperation.

Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization at an unprecedented first meeting with Trump in Singapore but negotiations have made little headway since, with North Korea falling short of USA demands for irreversible moves to abandon a weapons program that potentially threatens the United States.

North Korea has increasingly called for sanctions relief in return for its denuclearization steps, but the United States has refused to comply until the full and verified denuclearization of the regime.

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To that end, the USA and South Korea announced last week the creation of a new working group to "strengthen our close coordination", including on "sanctions implementation and inter-Korean cooperation that comply with the United Nations sanctions", according to State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino.

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he expects to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "sometime early next year". -North Korea dialogue, sought to play down the talks delay.

"The fear from America's perspective would be that the South Koreans might go too fast and agree to things that would involve, for example, our troops, our economic postures that we wouldn't be prepared to give [at this stage], without perhaps getting significant concessions on reductions of weapons testing", retired U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney said Wednesday.

"It's a lot easier when the North Koreans are misbehaving, that tends to promote solidarity between Washington and Seoul", Russel said.

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