Summit Preparations and Agenda

U.S. State Department Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Biegun visited Pyongyang February 6-8 for working-level talks with his counterpart, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) State Affairs Commission Special Representative for U.S. Affairs Kim Hyok Chol.

On February 11 at the U.S. State Department, Biegun debriefed the Pyongyang meeting to a gathering that included U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, ROK National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, and leaders from south Korea's five main political parties. He said, "We have agreed on the [summit] agenda, but need some time to understand each other for the sake of the talks."

Biegun stated that the agenda is to consist of 12 items. Biegun was further quoted as saying that the two sides "had the opportunity to explain exactly what they want" and that the "bridging of differences will begin with the next meeting." South Korean newspaper the Hankyoreh reported that the DPRK demanded the partial loosening of U.S. sanctions in exchange for allowing inspections of its Yongbyon nuclear facilities, while the U.S. proposed a declaration ending the Korean War as a corresponding measure. The Hankyoreh also noted that the two sides are likely to build on certain areas arising from the agreement reached at the first summit, namely the formation of a new bilateral relationship, establishment of a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

Biegun explained that the aim of the next working-level meeting was to develop a draft for the summit agreement. "With just two weeks left until the summit, we can't solve every issue, but there is the possibility if we can reach an agreement in certain respects," Biegun was quoted as saying.

Biegun went on to express "hope that the advancement of inter-Korean relations proceeds in tandem with the north Korean denuclearization process," adding that, "Normalization of relations with north Korea, a peace treaty, and establishment of a basis for the Korean Peninsula's economic prosperity are a long way away, but we [the U.S. government] have chosen to do that. We hope and believe north Korea will make the right choice."

Subseqent  reports indicated that the working-level meeting began with lower level officials on February 19, with Biegun and Kim Hyok Chol joining on February 21 or 22. These negotiations are expected to continue right up to the start of the summit.

The Hankyoreh notes, "One of the most distinctive aspects of the second summit is that it will last for two days, whereas the first summit was wrapped up in a single day. Considering that the leaders have ample time, experts predict that the summit itinerary will feature not only negotiations but also social events [...] in an attempt to build and emphasize trust."

A U.S. administration official said in a February 21 conference call that the Hanoi summit will be "similar in format to [the summit] last June 12 in Singapore," adding, "There will be an opportunity for the two leaders to see one another one-on-one, to share a meal and engage in expanded meetings of their respective delegations."

President Trump is expected to arrive in Hanoi on February 26. Chairmain Kim departed Pyongyang by train on February 23, travelling to the summit via China.

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 1 - February 25, 2019

Article Link:
Summit Preparations and Agenda


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