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Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting in Vietnam

President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are planning to meet one-on-one during their summit in Vietnam next week, senior administration officials said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on a background call ahead of the summit, a senior administration official said more details on the exact format would be forthcoming, but that it would be “similar” to Trump and Kim’s first meeting last year.

“It’s going to be similar in format to what you saw last June 12 in Singapore,” the official said. “There will be an opportunity for the two leaders to see one another one-on-one, to share a meal and engage in expanded meetings of their respective delegations.”

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Trump and Kim are scheduled to hold their second summit Feb. 27 and 28 in Hanoi with a goal of building off the joint statement they signed at their first meeting last year in Singapore.

The Singapore summit, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, started with Trump and Kim meeting one-on-one with only their translators in the room. That was followed by lunch and a meeting alongside their aides.

The Singapore summit concluded with a joint statement in which North Korea pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” in exchange for unspecific security guarantees from the U.S.

The Trump administration officials on Thursday’s background call dodged questions on specifics of what might be agreed to during the Vietnam summit, saying negotiations are continuing ahead of the meeting.

“I don’t know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearize, but the reason why we’re engaged in this is because we believe there’s a possibility that North Korea could make the choice to fully denuclearize,” one of the officials said.

One area the official highlighted as a chance for progress is on coming to a shared definition of denuclearization with Pyongyang. But asked whether North Korea has given the United States its definition of denuclearizing, the official demurred.

“We’re in the midst of negotiations with the North Koreans right now, and I’d be loathe to characterize their positions,” he said when asked about Pyongyang's definition of denuclearization.

The official also said the administration is not looking for a step-by-step process for North Korea’s denuclearization, saying “we need to move very quickly” and “in very big bites.”

The United States further needs North Korea to fully declare its nuclear and missile stockpiles, the official added, adding that he “suspect[s] that will come well before the end” of the process. 

The officials did appear to rule out the possibility of agreeing to a withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea, with one saying that a withdrawal for an official peace treaty to end the Korean War “is not the subject of discussions” and the other saying, “I’ve never discuss that in any round of negotiations.”