Secret talks underway to prepare for Trump-Kim summit: CNN

WASHINGTON/SEOUL The US and North Korea have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between president Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, a sign that planning for the highly anticipated meeting is progressing.

CNN, citing several administration officials familiar with the discussions, reported that Mr Trump agreed to the summit on the spot when visiting South Korean officials - South Korea's National Security Adviser Chung Eui Yong and intelligence chief Suh Hoon - presented him the invitation from Mr Kim early last month.

The timeline for the Trump-Kim summit remains unknown although the South Korean side have said that it would take place next month.

The current target is late May or June, CNN quoted officials as saying.

According to CNN, the talks between the US and North Korean intelligence officials are aimed at preparing the ground for a meeting between US Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, who awaits Congressional confirmation for his appointment as a secretary of state, and the head of the North's Reconnaissance General Bureau, whose identity has not been confirmed.

Both sides have met several times in a third country to determine a location for the historic summit, US officials told CNN.

CNN quoted US officials as saying that the summit will be held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. North Korea had relayed that proposal to the US, according Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

South Korea's presidential office said yesterday that while they cannot confirm whether such secret talks have been taking place, it is certainly a "good sign" in paving the way for what would be the first summit between North Korea and the US.

"Even if we were aware of the talks, we cannot comment on it," said an anonymous official, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Analysts said the efforts show that the US intelligence agencies are taking the lead for summit preparations.

Meanwhile, both Koreas held working-level talks on Saturday to discuss establishing a direct telephone link between their leaders and other communication issues ahead of the April 27 inter-Korean summit.

The meeting at the North Korean side of the border village of Panmunjom lasted for about three hours .