Representatives from the United States, South Korea, and North Korea will hold high-stakes discussions in Finland in the coming days; planning new steps forward as President Trump prepares for his first face to face meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the unofficial huddle will likely focus on the Hermit Kingdom’s willingness to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, and concrete proposals on how the Trump administration can verify Kim’s denuclearization.
The Deputy Director of North American Affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry is set to meet with former US ambassador Kathleen Stephens and multiple military and security experts from Seoul.
The discussions are reportedly taking place at the Japanese Embassy in Helsinki; and will likely “pave the way” towards Kim’s meeting with President Trump expected to occur before May of this year.
President Trump shocked the world this month when he suddenly announced he had accepted Kim’s invitation to meet in person; marking a major victory in Washington’s escalating war of words with Pyongyang.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: The Moment North Korean Defector DASHES Across DMZ
It’s not uncommon for North Korean defectors to find their way into South Korea, but nearly all cases involve routing through China before heading towards the staunch US ally.
Current estimates say only four people have successfully crossed the DMZ in several years.
BEIJING BETRAYAL: China CAUGHT SNEAKING Oil Supplies to North Korea
South Korean authorities announced Friday it had detained a Chinese-based ship and its staff over reports the tanker was sneaking oil supplies to Kim’s regime; a violation of recent UN sanctions that barred such shipments to the communist nation.
According to UPI, officials in Seoul confirmed they had seized the Lighthouse Winmore, a ship registered in Hong Kong that allegedly smuggled over 600 tons of refined oil into North Korea last November; well after the United Nations adopted Resolution 2375 which banned the hermit kingdom from importing fuel.
President Trump weighed-in on the revelation on social media, saying he was “very disappointed” that Beijing refused to comply with the UN mandate, adding that no “friendly solution” to the North Korean crisis would be possible “if this continues.”
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump tweeted.
Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017
South Korea’s seizure of a Chinese ship escalates already heightened tensions in the region; with dictator Kim Jong Un vowing to continue to test his rapidly expanding nuclear and missile programs.