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South Korean national security adviser in United States, to meet Bolton

04 May 2018, 10:46 | Marta Robbins

Chinese foreign minister praises North Korea during rare Pyongyang trip

People watch a TV screen showing US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting Chinese diplomat on Thursday that he is committed to denuclearization, China's foreign ministry said, as diplomatic efforts to bring lasting peace to the Korean peninsula gather pace.

The American official said there was no immediate confirmation on a change in the conditions under which the Americans are being held.

The three Americans are: Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born United States citizen who was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labour after being convicted of espionage.

"We hope the dialogue between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States will be conducted successfully and that substantial progress will be made", he said, referring to an upcoming meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The joint statement signed by North Korea's Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in calls for "more active cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts at all levels".

According to the New York Times report, the officials would not say if Trump was seeking options on a partial withdrawal or a full withdrawal, but said the latter was unlikely.

China's foreign minister Wang Yi (centre L) attends a meeting with North Korea's foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho (centre R) at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on May 2, 2018.

Kim Jong-un stated that achieving de-nuclearization was the "firm position of North Korea" stressing that Pyongyang was willing to re-establish dialogue in the region.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has struck a conciliatory tone in recent months towards South Korea
AP North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has struck a conciliatory tone in recent months towards South Korea

North Korea announced on Sunday that it would close its main nuclear test site next month but some US officials are skeptical that Pyongyang will give up its nuclear arsenal.

A South Korean official is reported to have said their release has been negotiated over the past two months and is "imminent".

That was confirmed Thursday afternoon by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and State Department spokesman Heather Nauert.

He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years hard labor, but then released 15 months later, in June 2017, gravely ill and in a coma.

One poll conducted by Gallup Korea in March found that Kim was viewed favorably by just 10 percent of the country, while 83 percent said they viewed him unfavorably.

Asked whether applying the past denuclearization model of Libya to North Korea will be feasible as U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested, he responded negatively. "But I don't think that's what the USA will do".

Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani both touted the impending release of Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Dong-chul, in media appearances.

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