Trump and N.Korea's Kim to meet again at the end of February -White House

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un around the end of February but will maintain sanctions on Pyongyang, the White House said on Friday after Trump met Pyongyang's top nuclear negotiator.

The announcement came amid a diplomatic flurry in Washington surrounding the visit of Kim Yong Chol, a hardline former spy chief, and marked a rare sign of movement in a denuclearization effort that has stalled since a landmark meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore last year.

"President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and (a) half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February. The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date," White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said.

Sanders insisted, however, that while progress was being made, the United States "is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea."

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U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un leave after signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un after they signed documents that acknowledged the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Anthony Wallace/Pool via Reuters TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend a signing ceremony during a summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Anthony Wallace/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during the signing of a document after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Susan Walsh/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un react during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Anthony Wallace/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un look at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. They are flanked by Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk in the Capella Hotel after their working lunch, on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Susan Walsh/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
U.S. President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un react at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures next to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before their bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
TOPSHOT - Pedestrians walk in front of a screen showing a news report displaying portraits of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Tokyo on June 12, 2018. - Trump and Kim have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
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Despite the summit announcement, there has been no indication of any narrowing of differences over U.S. demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States or over Pyongyang's repeated demands for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

Trump declared after the Singapore summit in June that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea was over. But hours before Kim Yong Chol's arrival on Thursday, Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy that singled out the country as an ongoing and "extraordinary threat."

The first summit produced a vague commitment by Kim to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but he has yet to take what Washington sees as concrete steps in that direction.

Nevertheless, both Trump and Kim had expressed an interest in arranging a second summit, which some U.S.-based analysts say would be premature due to the lack of obvious progress so far.

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, has been widely touted as the most likely site of the next summit. There has also been speculation about other possible venues, including Bangkok, Hawaii or a return to Singapore.

Friday's Oval Office meeting followed 45 minutes of talks between the North Korean envoy and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The State Department said that Pompeo had a "good discussion" with Kim Yong Chol "on efforts to make progress on commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore." It provided no specifics.

Harry Kazianis, an analyst at the Washington-based Center for the National Interest, said: "Both nations must now show at least some tangible benefits from their diplomatic efforts during a second summit, or risk their efforts being panned as nothing more than reality TV." (Reporting By Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom; additional reporting by Steve Holland and David Alexander and Lesley Wroughton in Washington, and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; editing by Alistair Bell and Sonya Hepinstall)

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