As Trump-Kim Summit Approaches, South Korea's Leader Heads To White House

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A commemorative coin featuring U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un has been struck by the White House Communications Agency ahead of their planned summit next month.

North Korea announced in mid-May that it will publicly shut down the test site located in the country's northern region in a ceremony to which media from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain will be invited to cover.

China is North Korea's biggest trade partner, and Trump has called on it repeatedly to press Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump and Moon meet amid rising doubts on North Korea

The much-anticipated meeting between the two leaders is scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12.

North Korea also threatened to cancel the summit with Trump, but US officials cited Friday by The Wall Street Journal indicated that the USA agreed not to send nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the joint exercise with South Korea because Pyongyang considers them provocative.

Moon is expected to share his read on the North's leader with President Trump when they meet at the White House Tuesday. In March, Moon's envoy told reporters in the White House driveway that Kim is "committed to denuclearization" and understood that joint US-South Korea military exercises "must continue". North Korean hackers are believed to be behind or have played a part in major debilitating cyberattacks including the WannaCry ransomware, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers in 2017, as well as the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014. According to The New York Times, Trump now believes he may have made a mistake in agreeing to meet with Kim, and worries that the summit could become a political embarrassment. "And for the United States, China can also be a guarantor that if there is an agreement, that the agreement is effectively implemented by the North Koreans".

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Miyeon Oh, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, says Trump and Moon have been coordinating throughout the spring.

"What we are seeing is an increase in targeting of North Korean researchers and defectors, malicious emails pretending to come from the South Koreans", he told CNN. Pyongyang has also taken strong exceptions to military drills between the United States and South Korea.

After mulling the rhetoric for the past week, White House officials now believe Kim was attempting to test Trump's willingness to make concessions ahead of the summit, according to a USA official.

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Trump has warned in the past that the summit might not take place or that he could walk out if it looked like a deal was not possible.

"In this case, the USA and its allies will be free from nuclear attack but North Korea's surrounding countries like China would be affected", Zhang said.

It remains to be seen whether Trump would be open to such an agreement. It's unclear what will happen to them now that the White House National Security Council has eliminated the role of cyber coordinator under national security adviser John Bolton.

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