USA wary of North Korean cyber prowess ahead of summit

Restaurant manager reveals he tricked North Korean waitresses into defecting

North Korea allowing foreign media to conduct on-the-spot coverage of the facility's shutdown is seen as a sign of goodwill from Kim, who has recently committed to denuclearization - but skepticism lingers that it may be only a "political show".

North Korea has already indicated it could dodge economic sanctions and raise capital, despite being slapped with sanctions from Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign in 2018. US President Donald Trump approved of the action on Twitter, noting that the dismantling of the facility, North Korea's only known test site, was "a very smart and gracious gesture".

The summit has been subject to some uncertainty in recent weeks, following a North Korean threat to cancel in response to routine military exercises between the US and South Korea.

President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017.

Besides protesting US disarmament demands, North Korea also angrily condemned joint US-South Korean military exercises, and last week pulled out of planned inter-Korean talks.

But statements last week from North Korea indicated otherwise. With a shallow bench of foreign-policy experts on his team (there is now no USA ambassador to South Korea, after Victor Cha's nomination was scuttled earlier this year), much of the planning has fallen to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo-the former C.I.A. director-and to national security adviser John Bolton, who has repeatedly advocated for regime change in Pyongyang.

The eight South Korean journalists were excluded because Pyongyang has cut off high-level contact with Seoul to protest an exercise with the U.S. military.

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'China can be a guarantor to North Korea that if they give up their nuclear capacity, the United States will not be in a position to harm them, ' United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Bloomberg in an interview last week. The United States and South Korea, on the other hand, have insisted the drills are purely for defense purposes, and part of their 1953 mutual defense agreement.

And some White House advisers have expressed private doubts Kim will come to the table.

"I don't think President Trump is thinking about public relations, he's thinking about peace", the vice-president said.

And Professor Kelly warned that Trump was heading for a "hangover" after the excitement over pushing the world back from nuclear war.

"In this case, the US and its allies will be free from nuclear attack but North Korea's surrounding countries like China would be affected", Zhang said. Trump has told aides he believes Xi is attempting to influence the summit, and the matter has become entwined in the ongoing trade standoff between Washington and Beijing.

Outwardly, for now, both Trump and his team remain optimistic. This was in response to U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton suggesting that North Korea could follow a "Libya model" of verifiable denuclearization.

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