US President Donald Trump hopes to hold more talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in early 2019. Image: iStock
The fate of two years of North Korean-US engagement could end on 31 December. Image: iStock

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would hold his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the upcoming November mid-term elections in the United States, according to Reuters.

Election day is November 6.

Earlier, Trump had said there was “incredible” process being made in negotiations with the nuclear-armed state. He also said, following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang last Sunday, that three or four locations are being considered for the summit.

Asia Times understands the location for the next summit will also be in Asia – their landmark first meeting was in Singapore in June.

While Pompeo, who met Kim on his trip, has been tight-lipped about what was discussed, one of Kim’s offers to Pompeo was to permit international inspectors in to examine at least some of his state’s nuclear facilities – a key American demand.

“You got no rockets flying, you have no missiles flying, you have no nuclear testing,” Trump said, according to Reuters. “We’ve made incredible progress – beyond incredible.

“But I have agreed to meet,” he said. “We have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim. I like him, he likes me, the relationship is good.”

Even so, no mutually agreed-upon denuclearization process between Pyongyang and Washington has yet started.

Washington has ceased military exercises on and around the peninsula; Pyongyang has halted nuclear and missile tests, dismantled parts of a missile test site, blown up entrances to its underground nuclear test site and returned some US war remains.

More recently, North Korea – backed by South Korea – has been requesting a formal declaration, and a peace treaty, to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice. But even though the first two points of the Singapore summit declaration call for improved bilateral relations and peace, the United States remains focused almost exclusively on denuclearization – the declaration’s third point.

At the recent inter-Korean summit, North Korea also offered to shut down its central nuclear production facilities – at the Yongbyon nuclear complex – in return for reciprocal, though un-detailed, US concessions.

A leader’s summit may be required to get the process on track.

Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Kookmin University, told Asia Times of his belief that while Trump wants to make real progress in North Korean relations, he is being held back by elements in the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence communities that remain suspicious of North Korea.