Originally published March 13, 2018 at 02:49a.m., updated March 13, 2018 at 02:49a.m.
TOKYO -- News of the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent shock waves around the globe. But in North Korea -- as of Monday, several days after the announcement -- not a word about it had been reported by the state-run media.
Pyongyang has been quiet on the slew of momentous, and possibly even historic, events that have come in quick succession over the past few months.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. expects North Korea to be in direct touch after Trump agreed to Kim's invitation to meet, urging patience as preparations for the potentially historic handshake are worked out.
"We've not heard anything directly back from North Korea, although we expect to hear something directly from them," Tillerson said in Abuja, Nigeria, in response to a reporter's question about the timing and location of the meeting. "I know those are all questions that people are anxious to have answers to. I would say just remain patient and we'll see what happens."
Tillerson has been working the issue several time zones ahead of the U.S. East Coast during a five-nation swing through sub-Saharan Africa. Dealing with the North Korea issue is one reason he decided Monday to cut short the trip by a day and return home. Trump's announcement has raised speculation about whether the meeting will actually go ahead, what North Korea will demand from the U.S. and even where the two leaders might meet.
"Nothing's been agreed and I don't want to start floating ideas out through the media," Tillerson said in Abuja alongside Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. "I think it's going to be very important that those kind of conversations are held quietly through the two parties."
Among the unverified reports so far is that Kim hopes to sign a peace treaty with Trump -- a long-held goal of the North Korean regime. Kim is likely to raise the possibility of such a treaty along with establishing diplomatic relations and moving toward nuclear disarmament during a meeting with the U.S. leader, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said Monday, citing an unidentified senior official in South Korea's presidential office.
Officials in Seoul say Pyongyang is keeping them in the dark as well.
"Regarding the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting, there hasn't been an official response by the North Korean government. So we think North Korea is having a cautious approach on the issue as it needs time to organize its stance," Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said Monday.
It's not unusual for the North Korean media to take their time in getting out the news.
Because they are state-run, all newspapers, radio and television broadcasters and the official news agency are without fail on message. As Baik suggested, sometimes it takes a while to figure out what that message should be.
But as of Monday, the only official word of the North's offer of a summit with Trump in exchange for a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests had come from South Korea. The North's main newspaper,which is run by the ruling party, had only put out a few paragraphs about a visit by senior South Korean officials last week.
It made no mention of any summit plans, let alone any conditions or statements on whether Kim is seriously considering abandoning his nuclear weapons.
Though it warranted just a brief in the North's main newspaper, last week's meeting in Pyongyang was a big one.
It led to an agreement for Kim to have a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next month. The same officials then carried to Washington a verbal message of Kim's willingness to meet Trump, which the U.S. president is said to have immediately accepted.
The lack of confirmation from Pyongyang has generated skepticism about how accurately Seoul and Washington are depicting Kim's intentions.
Also on Monday, South Korea's national security director praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's role in nudging North Korea toward denuclearization talks, after word of the possible summit.
Meeting with Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Chung Eui-yong said the situation on the Korean Peninsula had "undergone very positive changes."
Xi told Chung the peninsula was "facing an important opportunity of mitigation and dialogue," according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Information for this article was contributed by Eric Talmadge, Christopher Bodeen and Mari Yamaguchi of The Associated Press; and by Nick Wadhams and Kanga Kong of Bloomberg News.
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