March 11, 2018 / 11:11 AM / 5 months ago

After visiting North Korea, South Korea officials to meet China, Japan leaders

SEOUL (Reuters) - Two senior South Korean officials who met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un last week will split up to visit the leaders of China and Japan this week to update them on the talks, a South Korean presidential official said on Sunday.

National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon listens as South Korea's National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong makes an announcement about North Korea and the Trump administration outside of the West Wing at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a mobile message that National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong will meet with China’s Xi Jinping on Monday, while spy agency chief Suh Hoon, accompanied by one of Chung’s deputies Nam Gwan-pyo, will speak with Japan’s Shinzo Abe on Tuesday.

Chung and Suh will leave for China and Japan separately on Monday to discuss their visit to North Korea with officials there. Chung is also scheduled to visit Russia after his trip to Beijing, but the details of that have yet to be announced.

The two officials returned on Sunday from a visit to the United States where an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for dialogue on his nuclear programme was delivered to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump agreed to meet with Kim and the two are expected to have the meeting some time before the end of May, although a time and place has not been set.

A Blue House official told reporters earlier on Sunday the truce village of Panmunjom at the inter-Korean border is a strong candidate for the U.S.-North Korea summit. Kim will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom before the end of April for the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

Other locations being floated in the media for the meeting between Trump and Kim include Switzerland, Sweden and the South Korean resort island of Jeju.

Officials from North Korea and the United States will speak directly with each other, while South Korea will be asked to consult with both, the South Korean official said.

Trump said on Saturday his planned meeting with Kim Jong Un could end quickly without an agreement or could result in “the greatest deal for the world” to ease nuclear tensions between the two countries.

“I may leave fast” if progress does not seem possible, Trump said at a campaign rally for Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone in western Pennsylvania. Trump said he believed North Korea wanted to make peace and that: “I think it’s time.”

South Korea's National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong makes an announcement about North Korea and the Trump administration outside of the West Wing at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Mark Potter

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