Apr 12, 2018
Yonhap News Agency
WASHINGTON, April 10 (Yonhap) -- The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will top the agenda for the upcoming meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but the North's human rights situation could also be discussed, the State Department said Tuesday.
Trump and Kim are expected to meet in May or early June at a time and place to be determined.
While the focus will be North Korea's nuclear weapons program, some have urged the Trump administration to raise the issue of human rights abuses by the regime.
"Typically when we have the opportunity to sit down and talk with countries where we have tremendous differences, that is something that does come up," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a regular press briefing. "I imagine that that would come up as well. However, denuclearization of the Korean peninsula -- which is something that Kim Jong-un said that he is willing to abide by and willing to work toward -- I think that is obviously the top conversation, and other things may come up as well."
The Trump administration has recently highlighted the regime's human rights abuses by inviting North Korean defectors to a meeting with the president at the White House, among other events.
Pyongyang denies that it has a human rights problem, calling the accusations a U.S.-led campaign to topple the regime.
Uncertainty also remains over whether the U.S. and North Korea mean the same thing by "denuclearization." Washington demands a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, while Pyongyang espouses a broader definition that includes the withdrawal of the U.S. nuclear umbrella and extended deterrence over South Korea, as well as American troops in the South.
Asked if the U.S. is confident the two sides are on the same page, Nauert said "That is something that the president has determined."
"And I can't speak for the president, but I can say that when they say they are ready to denuclearize, we will have conversations about that," she said. "We go into those meetings in good faith, hoping for the very best and so we look forward to having those conversations."