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Blue House aide prepping for summit in Singapore

June 01,2018
An official from the Blue House has been dispatched to Singapore, the site of a highly anticipated meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but the presidential office denied speculation that the trip was related to the summit.

Kwun Hyuk-ki, director of the Blue House’s press center, confirmed the official’s dispatch through a text message to reporters on Wednesday but denied it had anything to do with the Trump-Kim summit set for June 12. Instead, he said the official was preparing for a South Korea-Singapore summit scheduled for July.

Many analysts, though, believe the Blue House is mulling a trilateral meeting in Singapore involving South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim and Trump. The agenda could include a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, which concluded in 1953 with a cease-fire.

Moon had said earlier in a news conference on Sunday that he hoped to push for a treaty “by holding South-North-U.S. talks should the North-U.S. summit be successful.” The announcement came after he met with Kim in a surprise summit on Saturday.

On Tuesday, a senior Blue House official said on the condition of anonymity that the idea of a trilateral meeting was “correlated” to the outcome of a Trump-Kim summit, which seems to be back on track after Trump abruptly canceled it last Thursday. Talks are underway between Kim Yong-chol, director of North Korea’s United Front Department, responsible for inter-Korean relations, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to finalize details of the meeting.

The arrival of a Blue House official in Singapore, where U.S. and North Korean officials have been going over the summit’s protocol and security, has fueled further speculation of a trilateral conclusion to the event. A Blue House source told Yonhap News Agency that the official is reviewing venues for a South Korean press center in case Moon does travel to Singapore to meet the other two leaders.

A peace treaty could be part of American guarantees of regime security, which North Korea has been demanding in exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]