Kim Jong Un briefs party leaders on future dialogue with U.S.

In this April 9, 2018, photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
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Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un briefed top ruling party officials on his vision for the future direction of dialogue with the United States and his upcoming summit with South Korea’s president, the North’s official media reported Tuesday. Kim gave his “profound analysis and appraisal” of the prospects for North Korea-U.S. dialogue at a meeting of the Politburo of the ruling party’s Central Committee, the Korean Central News Agency reported. The meeting was held on Monday.

The KCNA report did not specifically mention plans for Kim to hold a summit with President Donald Trump, expected in May or June, but it suggests Pyongyang is actively preparing for the meeting and is ready to let North Koreans know big events may be ahead. The North’s official media has thus far made virtually no mention of the series of stunning diplomatic overtures Kim has made toward Seoul and Washington since January, though it did trumpet Kim’s visit to Beijing last month to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

That was the first time Kim has left the North since assuming power in 2011 and was also his first meeting with another head of state. North Korea’s parliament, called the Supreme People’s Assembly, is scheduled to convene Wednesday. The assembly generally convenes once a year to approve the national budget and other policy and personnel issues that have already been decided on by Kim and the party leadership. According to the KCNA report, the party leaders who met Monday approved a budget for this year that will be presented to the parliament.

It said Kim outlined in detail his analysis on the situation on the Korean Peninsula and mentioned the North-South summit, which will be held on the south side of the DMZ on April 27. He then discussed the “prospect of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue and set forth the strategic and tactical issues” to be maintained by the party. Though the report did not explicitly mention plans for the summit with Trump, it was the most concrete suggestion to date that Pyongyang is preparing for what would be the first-ever summit between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president.

Trump said Monday their meeting might be in late May or even in June. The location has yet to be announced. The main issue at the summit will be North Korea’s nuclear program. Speaking at the White House on Monday, Trump expressed hope that a deal to get Pyongyang to denuclearize might be made. Administration officials say the North has communicated that Kim is ready to discuss his nuclear weapons program. Questions remain about what conditions Kim might tack on to any denuclearization agreement. Wednesday’s parliament meeting could provide further clues as to what approach Kim might intend to
take for the negotiation.