North Korean soldier defects to South

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

South Korea to send trains to North Korea in joint survey to connect railways separated since Korean War

A North Korean soldier fled across a heavily fortified border to defect to South Korea early Saturday, the military in Seoul said, just as the rivals began taking steps to reduce military tensions.

Three unspecified locations are under consideration, the president said aboard Air Force One as he returned from a weekend trip to Buenos Aires to attend the G-20 summit, Reuters reported.

"I think we're going to do one fairly (soon) - into January, February, I think", Trump said in remarks carried by the AFP news agency.

The primary goal of discussions between the US and North Korea remains the creation of "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula", said a White House statement issued Saturday following Trump's meeting in Argentina with Chinese Present Xi Jinping.

Trump and Kim agreed to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" during their first meeting on June 12 in Singapore.

He also said he'd like to invite Kim to the United States at some point.

US officials are seeking a "substantive next step" toward denuclearization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Saturday, adding that Washington has been seeing good progress in discussions with Pyongyang. The postponement stirred concerns that nuclear talks between the USA and North Korea had again bogged down, as Kim's regime seeks sanctions relief before taking key disarmament steps.

According to CNN, President Moon Jae-in has "long dreamed" of building a trans-Korean railroad because of the economic benefits that would result in being more easily connected to China and Russian Federation.

"They have agreed to maintain the vigorous implementation of existing sanctions to ensure that North Korea understands that denuclearization is the only way to economic prosperity and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula", he added.

Differences have emerged between Washington and Seoul on how to proceed with Kim, as the dovish Moon has long favoured engagement with the North.

Despite the warming ties, it remains unclear whether Kim will make his first-ever visit to the South this year, as Seoul is hoping. But prospects of a fourth Moon-Kim meeting have recently dimmed, with negotiations on denuclearising the North grinding to a halt. "We have a good relationship".

The inspection is part of a summit agreement between the leaders of the Koreas, signed in April, to modernize and eventually reconnect rail systems across their border in a bid to foster reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

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