South Korea, US push to hold working-level video talks

Tokyo accuses a South Korean warship of locking fire-control radar on its maritime patrol aircraft and has released a video clip to back up its claim

Senior officials from the US and North Korea are meeting in Washington sometime later this week, South Korean media reported on Tuesday.

A top North Korean diplomat was travelling to Sweden today, she told reporters, as speculation mounts over the next summit between the isolated state's leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. But on a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit "to achieve results that will be welcomed by the worldwide community", according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

Tokyo says the South Korean destroyer's fire-control radar (STIR-180) locked onto a Japanese maritime patrol plane that was flying overhead for surveillance purposes.

Pompeo had planned to meet Kim Yong Chol to discuss a second summit last November, but the meeting was postponed at the last moment.

Kim Yong Chol was last in Washington in June, when he delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump that opened the way for an unprecedented meeting between the leaders of the two countries in Singapore on June 12.

The official said a Trump and Kim meeting could happen by early March, though added: "No one knows what Trump is thinking".

A White House official, while not confirming plans for Friday's meeting, said "a lot of positive things" are happening related to North Korea's denuclearization.

After that meeting, the White House said Trump hosted Kim Yong Chol in the Oval Office to "discuss relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea's final, fully verified denuclearization".

There has been no indication, however, of any narrowing of differences over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States or over Pyongyang's demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

It wasn't immediately known whether he was carrying a message from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

South Korea's defense paper cited the summitry and diplomatic efforts saying North Korea agreed to establish a new relations with the US and also to work toward "complete denuclearization" during the June summit with Trump.

Mr Kim Yong Chol, who arrived in Washington on Thursday (Jan 17), will be looking to firm up recent clues that the U.S. position is softening.

During the administrations of conservative presidents, North Korea has been typically listed as an "enemy" or the "main enemy" only to be soften by liberal administrations.

"We're moving forward in these conversations, lots of ideas about how we might continue to decrease the risk to the American people", Pompeo said Friday in an interview with Fox News. "But with Abe re-elected as LDP leader this fall, scandals fading away, and U.S. -Japan trade tensions abated for now, a lot of the domestic political pressure that made it so urgent for Abe to seem looped in with Washington on North Korea has gone away".

Observers say similar incidents could occur frequently as South Korea's liberal government pushes for deeper exchanges with North Korea.

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