Lavrov meets Kim in Pyongyang, invites him to Moscow

Russia says Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit N.Korea on May 31

"I look forward to seeing what's in the letter".

High-ranking officials of the United States and North Korea met in NY late on Wednesday in the first of two days of talks about the future of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and a possible summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un.

The latest conciliatory declarations capped a turbulent few days of diplomatic brinkmanship that had sent tensions soaring.

Initially scheduled for June 12, the date of the summit remains yet to be set in stone - especially after Trump called off the meeting before reinstating it again within 24 hours.

It encouraged North Koreans "to firmly stand on the path that our previous leaders' built for national defense" and pledged that the country will "hold our artillery to face our enemies who hold guns and swords, '" said the source.

"It's moving along very nicely", Trump told reporters when asked for an update.

"If they come in and say, 'No we are going to have to take something, ' then I don't think there is going to be a negotiation", Stoffer said.

It's a remarkable turn-around given that the talks almost fell apart last week when Trump said he was calling off the June 12 meeting in Singapore.

Pence had drawn a comparison between the administration's hopes for North Korea and the "Libya model", which could be a reference to starkly different things.

Meanwhile, the outgoing head of United States pacific command, who is Mr Trump's pick to be the ambassador to South Korea, said on Wednesday that North Korea remained America's most imminent threat.

Trump's original decision to abandon the summit initially blindsided South Korea, which had been brokering a remarkable détente between Washington and Pyongyang in a desperate bid to avoid a devastating conflict.

The trio identified 22 specific programs or activities - such as the country's nuclear weapons stockpile, its missile arsenal or its nuclear reprocessing facilities - that USA negotiators need to address with North Korea.

Japan intends to hold a foreign ministerial meeting with North Korea in Singapore in early August if progress is made on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs at an expected U.S.

There are still stark differences between what the two sides hope to achieve.

Pyongyang has a different view of denuclearisation and remains deeply anxious that abandoning its deterrent would leave it vulnerable, especially while the United States maintains a robust military presence in South Korea. Associated Press journalists saw the plane touch down at New York's JFK International Airport and the North Korean delegation get off the plane.

The overtime work by officials from the two nations, which have been at daggers drawn since the Korean War broke out in 1950, and whose leaders have never met, indicates that both parties are seriously seeking to discover some common ground to form the basis of the summit.

A letter from Kim Jong-Un will be hand-delivered to Mr Trump later this week, he added.

"Moon essentially helped relay messages from Trump to Kim and vice versa, to further smooth the process and to resume negotiations", he told AFP, saying the Singapore meeting was "clearly back on track".

"It is absolutely obvious that - as we start discussions on how to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula - it is understood that the solution can not be comprehensive without the lifting of sanctions", Lavrov said at a press conference. "We are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12 and if not", she said, "we'll be ready on July 12".

He vowed Russia's support for denuclearization and a broader effort to create a stable and long-lasting peace in the region, but indicated that Moscow believes sanctions can be eased while the process is in progress, which diverges from the US position that denuclearization must come first.

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