US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting in Singapore, June 12 2018. Picture: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting in Singapore, June 12 2018. Picture: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST

Washington — US President Donald Trump  says he hopes to organise a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in early 2019, perhaps as soon as January or February.

Trump told reporters that "three sites" were in consideration for the meeting, a follow-up to their historic summit in Singapore in June.

"I think we're going to do one fairly (soon), you know, into January, February, I think," said Trump, while flying home from Buenos Aires where he attended the Group of 20 summit. "We're getting along very well. We have a good relationship."

In the Argentinian capital, Trump held separate bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday that primarily focused on trade, but the US leader said Xi had agreed to work with him "100%" on North Korea.

In June, Trump and Kim opened up a face-to-face dialogue after months of trading military threats and pointed barbs.

The two leaders signed a vaguely worded document on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but progress has since stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document. North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo was due to meet a top North Korean official in early November, but the meeting was abruptly put off, with Pyongyang insisting that Washington ease sanctions.

On Friday, Trump discussed the situation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.

The pair "reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation" of North Korea, Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

They agreed on the need for maintaining vigorous enforcement of existing sanctions to ensure North Korea understood that denuclearisation was the only path, Sanders said.

Moon's office welcomed Trump's comments about a second summit with Kim.

"We hope a concrete agenda and logistics will be determined soon," Yonhap quoted presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom as saying.

But differences remain between Washington and Seoul on how to proceed with Kim, as the dovish Moon favours more robust engagement with the North.

North and South Korea have begun to remove landmines and destroy military bunkers at parts of their common border as part of efforts to improve long-strained relations. They have also begun work to reconnect a train line and repair another rail link across the border.

Despite the warming ties, it remains unclear whether Kim will make his first visit to the South in 2018, as Seoul is hoping. Kim agreed to travel to Seoul after hosting Moon in Pyongyang in September for their third summit in 2018.

But prospects of a fourth Moon-Kim meeting have dimmed, with negotiations on denuclearising the North grinding to a halt.

In his talks with Trump in Argentina, Moon earned some support for the Seoul summit from the US leader — perhaps in a bid to entice Kim to make good on his pledge.

The two leaders said Kim's visit to the South Korean capital "would provide additional momentum to their joint efforts to establish peace on the Korean peninsula," Moon's press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

AFP