North And South Korean Leaders Hold Surprise Meeting

May 26, 2018

Updated 10:55 a.m. ET

Add another twist to a topsy-turvy week of diplomacy with North Korea. South Korea’s presidential Blue House announced Saturday that earlier in the day, President Moon Jae-in held a secret meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, in an effort to keep diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang alive.

“The two leaders frankly exchanged their opinions on implementing the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration [which the two struck in April at their first historic summit] and for the successful staging of a U.S.-NK summit,” Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.

This surprise meeting, on the North Korean side of the shared inter-Korean area of Panmunjom, comes after President Trump on Thursday abruptly scuttled a summit with Kim, planned for June 12 in Singapore. Trump cited “open hostility” from the North as his reason for backing out.

South Korea, a longtime U.S. ally, was not notified before Trump’s letter canceling with Kim was made public. But Moon has continued in recent days to hope the summit still comes to pass.

Moon’s office said a press conference is set for Sunday morning in Seoul. Photos released by the Blue House show Kim and Moon hugging and Kim’s propaganda chief and sister, Kim Yo Jong, greeting Moon.

Saturday’s meeting is only the fourth time — but the second in a month — that leaders from the North and South have met.

Meantime, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “the White House pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place.”

The team, led by Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, was to go to Singapore this weekend to meet with a North Korean team to make plans for the June 12 summit.

NPR news assistant Se Eun Gong contributed to this post.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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