China Hopes N. Korea Leader's Summits With Trump, Moon Will Defuse Tension

"The US has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula", an administration official said.

A combination photo shows a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) handout of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un released on May 10, 2016, and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump posing for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016.

But Pyongyang has not broken its public silence on the summit, which U.S. officials say is being planned for May.

North Korea is reportedly pushing to hold the talks in its capital, Pyongyang, but it is unclear whether Trump is willing to travel to the city.

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CNN quoted United States officials as saying that the summit will be held at the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar - a proposal that North Korea has already relayed to the United States, according Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

The back-channel talks are the latest move in a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at resolving the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea, which has shuttled in between Pyongyang and Washington to prepare the discussions, stated Kim had expressed openness to go over giving up nuclear weapons throughout his upcoming meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump, however North Korea had not supported such discussions until Sunday.

Mr Trump said: "We're moving along very nicely with North Korea".

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Analysts echoed that the efforts show that the United States intelligence agencies are taking the lead for summit preparations, but expressed skepticism whether such moves were headed by the North's Reconnaissance General Bureau, which deals with clandestine operations against South Korea. We'll see what happens.

The working-level talks began on Saturday morning at a facility on the North side.

North and South Korea held talks over establishing a telephone hotline between their leaders and other communication issues ahead of a rare summit between the rivals later this month.

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  • Ryan Wade