Trump to press South Korea's Moon before summit with North

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee

It was unclear whether Trump was truly backing away from the summit or whether he was strategically coaxing North Korea to the table after decades of tension on the Korean peninsula and antagonism with Washington over its nuclear weapons program.

The journalists from the MBC television network and News1 wire service took a special government flight later on Wednesday to go to the North's northeastern coastal city of Wonsan, according to Seoul's Foreign Ministry.

The North announced last month that it would destroy the site in the north-east by blowing up the access tunnels, an announcement welcomed by Washington and Seoul.

The ministry said it planned to arrange a rare direct flight on Wednesday between the two countries, who remain technically at war, to ferry the journalists to Wonsan.

The length of their onward journey to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site suggests that the closure will occur tomorrow.

On Seoul's streets Wednesday, South Koreans were divided on whether they thought Pyongyang was honest.

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In an about-face, the North accepted the list of the South Korean journalists earlier in the day.

Pompeo, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency before becoming secretary of state in April when Trump fired Rex Tillerson, has met twice with Kim in Pyongyang.

The U.S. president said "certain conditions" needed to be met for the DPRK-U.S. summit, but he did not elaborate on details.

President Donald Trump says he will know next week whether his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still on, as his administration looks to keep the historic meeting on track.

The remark came after North Korea chose to give South Korean journalists access to the shutdown event of the Punggye-ri site.

The North has portrayed the destruction on the test site as a goodwill gesture ahead of planned June 12 summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore. -South Korean air combat drills, suspended North-South talks and threatened to scrap the summit if Pyongyang was pushed toward "unilateral nuclear abandonment". The Liberty Korea Post web site has also reported that North Korea sentenced 24 defectors to death for continuing a campaign against Pyongyang from exile, such as by sending propaganda into the North. She added that experts from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the world's main nuclear test-ban body, should also be invited to observe the site.

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Go Myong-hyun, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said both sides were playing "a game of chicken" in the run up to the summit "to gain an upper hand in negotiations".

Reporters from China, Britain, the USA and Russian Federation on Tuesday flew from Beijing to the North Korean city of Wonsan, from where they will travel for some 20 hours up the east coast by train and bus to the remote test site.

The North pulled out of planned peace talks with the South last week, objecting to long-scheduled joint military exercises between United States and Republic of Korea forces. Whether by design or by happenstance, the cold water thrown on the enthusiasm for the summit by Bolton with his reference to a "Libya model" for North Korea was timely.

"When Bolton gave an interview and talked about following a Libya model, Pyongyang said, 'I don't think so, that ain't happening".

Moon said he realized many were skeptical in U.S. about the summit, "but I don't think there will be positive developments in history if we just assume that, because it all failed in the past, it will fail again". "They must know what price they will be made to pay", the commentary said, using the North's traditional lowercase "s" when describing the South.

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