President Donald Trump has said he is still looking to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite canceling them last week. North Korea has also expressed a "fixed will" to return to the diplomatic table.
Despite the ongoing back and forth, the US and North Korea appeared optimistic early on Monday that a planned meeting between the leaders of the two countries might still take place.
"Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the summit between Kim Jong Un and myself," President Trump wrote on Twitter.
"I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!" he added.
A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that delegations from the US and North Korea were still in talks to possibly go ahead with the June 12 meeting, which Trump had canceled on Thursday citing "open hostility" from Kim.
The North Korean leader was reportedly upset by multiple members of the Trump camp referring to the "Libya model" of dealing with hostile nations. In a rare moment of distancing himself from allies' rhetoric, Trump insisted that Libya had nothing to do with his plans for dealing with Pyongyang.
The "Libya model" refers to the idea of using strict sanctions to push for regime change, as happened in Libya under the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. This ended with the death of leader Moammar Gadhafi — hence Kim's anger at the suggestion.
On Saturday, Kim held unannounced talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone. Following the meeting, Moon said Kim had expressed a desire to go ahead with the Trump talks. North Korean news agency KCNA also reported Kim's "fixed will" to attend the US summit.
Led by Sung Kim, a longtime US State Department Korea expert, the preparatory talks are expected to last until Thursday in Panmunjom, the "truce village" on the border.
es/cmk (dpa, Reuters)