Japan, S.Korea remain split over radar incident

Tokyo accuses a South Korean warship of locking fire-control radar on its maritime patrol aircraft and has released a video clip to back up its claim

Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's main nuclear negotiator, will travel to the United States for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, CNN reported, quoting two USA sources familiar with the negotiations.

Kim arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport Thursday evening and was spotted leaving the airport with US Special Representative to North Korea Steve Biegun and Pak Chol, a North Korean official who's the chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.

Tokyo says the South Korean destroyer's fire-control radar (STIR-180) locked onto a Japanese maritime patrol plane that was flying overhead for surveillance purposes. Trump and Kim Jong Un are to meet near the end of February at a place to be announced at a later day, said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Speculation is mounting that a second meeting between Mr Kim and Mr Trump could be held in Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that South Korean and U.S. officials are poised to hold working-level talks via video conferencing.

The comments came as Washington and Pyongyang are reportedly stepping up preparations for a second summit, which would suggest a possible breakthrough in the impasse in nuclear talks. Chol last visited the White House on June 1.

News of the impending visit came even as Trump unveiled a revamped USA missile defense strategy that singled out North Korea as an ongoing and "extraordinary threat", seven months after he declared after his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the threat the country posed had been eliminated.

"South Korea and China need to work together closely to ensure the momentum of the dialogue continues to grow this year".

Separately, the Chosun Ilbo daily reported the same day that there was a "strong chance" that Kim, a former spy chief and current head of the North's United Front Department - which oversees relations with South Korea - could meet Trump.

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Many conservatives in South Korea have said that South Korea shouldn't have agreed on conventional arms-reduction programs because North Korea's nuclear threat remains unchanged.

Under tension-easing agreements reached after Moon's summit with Kim Jong Un in September, the two Koreas demolished some of their front-line guard posts, established buffer zones along their frontier and demilitarized a shared border village.

"If North Korea accepts, it's a realizable scenario", it quoted the source as saying.

Kim's latest trip to China, his fourth since past year, came as the North's strongest ally has encouraged negotiations with the USA while at the same time arguing in favor of immediate easing of sanctions.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, North Korea's Kim Yong-chol, vice-chairman of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, left for the United States capital after transferring in Beijing.

President Trump often takes to Twitter to announce North Korea-related news, but he has not mentioned the regime, or its leader in recent days.

Kim Yong Chol earlier held talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Washington hotel.

A Vietnamese government source who wished to remain anonymous told AFP "logistical preparations" were under way for a Trump-Kim summit although "no official decision" had been made. "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea".

The talks had stalled over North Korea's refusal to provide a detailed accounting of its nuclear and missile facilities that would be used by inspectors to verify any deal to dismantle them.

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