North Korea protecting nukes: UN

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Kim Jong Un (left) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump
North Korean President Kim Jong Un (left) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at their summit in Singapore. Xinhua

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea is working to ensure its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities cannot be destroyed by military strikes, UN monitors said ahead of a meeting between US and North Korean officials to prepare a second denuclearisation summit.

The US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will meet his North Korean counterpart today in Pyongyang to prepare for a summit later this month between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the US State Department said on Monday.

Mr Biegun has said he hoped the meeting with new North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok Chol would map out “a set of concrete deliverables” for the summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

Mr Biegun, who held talks with South Korean officials in Seoul on Sunday and Monday, said he would be aiming for “a roadmap of negotiations and declarations going forward, and a shared understanding of the desired outcomes of our joint efforts.”

South Korean officials said they and the United States could be looking at a compromise that could expedite North Korea’s denuclearisation the dismantling of the North’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex, which could be reciprocated by US measures including formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War and setting up a liaison office.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, which was submitted to Security Council members on Friday.

The first summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Singapore in June yielded a vague commitment by Mr Kim to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, where US troops have been stationed since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Vietnamese resort town of Danang is seen as the most likely location for the next summit.

Mr Trump last Thursday hailed the “tremendous progress” in his dealings with North Korea, but the view in the United States is that North Korea has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

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