Lim heads to U.S. to plan first summit with Trump

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Lim heads to U.S. to plan first summit with Trump

Korea’s vice foreign minister embarked for Washington Thursday to iron out the details of the first summit between President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump next month.

First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam is expected to meet with the U.S. Department of State and the White House during his three-day trip to Washington, according to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lim is expected to discuss the dates, agenda and protocol details for this upcoming summit, to be held in the United States in June.

He is also expected to discuss with Washington officials other key items that may be on the agenda during Moon and Trump’s summit, such as the North Korean nuclear issue, the deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system and other key bilateral issues.

Moon ordered Blue House aides on Thursday “to make preparations according to plan” for the upcoming Korea-U.S. summit, according to presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun.

Chung Eui-yong, chief of the National Security Office, reported to Moon in a meeting of Blue House senior secretaries and aides on the status of preparations for the upcoming summit. The visit of Korea’s No. 2 diplomat to the United States comes two weeks after the Moon administration kicked off amid a relay of exchanges of officials between Seoul and Washington.

Moon and Trump held their first phone conversation on May 10, one day after the snap election that brought Moon into office. Trump invited Moon to visit Washington at an early date.

Last week, Matthew Pottinger, senior director for East Asia at the U.S. National Security Council, visited Seoul and, during a meeting with Chung, arranged to hold a bilateral summit in Washington in late June.

Later in the week, Hong Seok-hyun, chairman of the Korean Peninsula Forum, visited the United States as Moon’s special envoy and had a meeting with Trump and other senior officials in Washington before returning Saturday, concluding a four-day trip.

According to informed sources in Seoul, Washington wants to have the summit earlier in June to better accommodate Trump’s schedule. The bilateral summit between Moon and Trump was arranged to fall before the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in early July, which will be cluttered with a series of bilateral meetings between leaders.

Trump is in the middle of his first 9-day foreign trip as president, which began Saturday and will take him across Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Belgium and Italy.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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