Ahead of summit, Pope Francis urges Koreas to have 'courage' for peace

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On a visit to Seoul previous year, Mr Trump reportedly suggested South Korea drop its reunification ambition to mollify Pyongyang. Instead, one of the most heated North Korean weapons-testing outbursts in recent memory forced him to follow Washington in ramping up pressure on the North.

PRESIDENT TRUMP and the governments of North Korea and South Korea are combining to create sky-high expectations for a diplomatic breakthrough on the North's nuclear program. USA officials and experts don't think the North can yet reliably strike the United States mainland, but suspect Mr Kim's worries over potential U.S. action may have prompted the climbdown.

The Olympic Games in the South Korean mountain resort of Pyeongchang in February provided the ideal backdrop for that diplomacy to flourish. "The concept of denuclearisation between the two countries is moving closer together".

Foster Klug, the AP's bureau chief for South Korea, has covered the Koreas since 2005.

The short answer: Someplace where Kim won't feel entirely comfortable. Garrett asked. "How do you reconcile those two assessments of the leader and the regime in North Korea?"

Seoul had been blasting propaganda messages and K-pop songs from border loudspeakers since the North's fourth nuclear test in early 2016.

Here's where it gets complicated.

"The two have also agreed to push for a meeting between the two presidents before the US-North Korea summit". The site is not far from North Korea's borders with China and Russian Federation. "Both South Korea and the United States have their own domestic procedures, so we're not at a signing stage because those procedures take time", the official said.

USA officials say they want to see significant demolition of North Korean nuclear facilities to offer significant sanctions relief. Residents in South Korea, China and Japan are at risk of radioactive exposure because the toxins could be exposed through the holes and cracks. This is understandable, but the real story here is about Koreans making peace. Trump is unlikely to prioritise it when he meets Kim.

Relations between the two Koreas and Japan have always been strained by territorial disputes and lingering resentment over Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula in the first half of last century.

Although the DPRK engaged with a number of United Nations mechanisms in recent years on issues such as the situation of women, children and persons with disabilities, requests by the Special Rapporteur to visit North Korea were rejected and the country has generally remained closed to independent human rights monitors.

Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar are former USA senators who serve on the board of directors of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Ralph Cossa, a Koreas expert and president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank, is skeptical of any real breakthrough. At another level, the South has grown to become Asia's fourth-largest economy, leaving many South Koreans feeling they may have more to lose than gain from any merger with the poverty-stricken North.

"How could that also be true if Kim Jong-Un is honorable and open?" What interim concessions would he be willing to make in order to preserve Mr. Kim's easily reversed testing freeze?

Cheon Seong-hoon, the former president of the Seoul-based Korea Institute for National Unification, said that Trump's decision to meet with Kim "is based on North Korea's denuclearization and nuclear removal".

And, he said, "it moved us at least one step away from the nuclear brink".