North Korea tells U.S. it is prepared to discuss denuclearization

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USA and North Korean intelligence officials have spoken a few times and even met in a third country, CNN reported.

"The US has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", a Trump administration official told The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post on Sunday.

WASHINGTON/SEOUL The US and North Korea have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between president Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, a sign that planning for the highly anticipated meeting is progressing.

The talks will lay the groundwork for a meeting between Mr Pompeo and his North Korea counterpart, who is the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

Kim is also slated to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a border village on April 27.

"Even if we were aware of the talks, we can not comment on it", said an anonymous Cheong Wad Dae official, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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Mr Pompeo is now awaiting confirmation as secretary of state in the coming weeks.

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

"It's a natural step in the right direction".

Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group risk consultancy, said North Korea's reported commitment to discuss "de-nuclearisation" significantly increases the chances that Mr Trump will meet Mr Kim. "It's an extension of the communication channels established by the three countries' top intelligence chiefs." said Hong Min, director of the North Korean studies division at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

However, increased exercise was seen by satellite at a North Korean nuclear website in February, pics of which imply the North has begun preliminary testing of a newfound light water reactor and possibly attracted still another reactor online at its Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center.

CNN quoted U.S. officials as saying that the summit will be held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. Once a location is agreed upon the officials said that the date will be set and the agenda discussed in greater detail.