South Korea's spy agency expects North Korea and the U.S. to hold working-level talks on denuclearization no later than December.
According to lawmakers who attended a closed-door parliamentary audit session of the National Intelligence Service(NIS) on Monday, the NIS said it expects another round of the working-level talks to begin as early as this or next month.
Minor opposition Bareunmirae Party lawmaker and parliamentary intelligence panel chief Lee Hye-hoon relayed a similar timeline in a media briefing, adding that North Korea is deemed to be preparing alternative plans following the Stockholm talks in October.
She said the North has set the end of this year as the deadline for a nuclear deal with the U.S. and it is the NIS's projection that the North aims to hold a summit with the U.S. by that time. She said it is thus reasonable to presume that the two sides would hold working-level talks by the beginning of December.
Rep. Lee Eun-jae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party also told a media briefing that the NIS is closely monitoring the possibility of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visiting China within this year.
According to the lawmaker, the NIS reported that if working-level talks with Washington go smoothly, there is a possibility that Kim may visit China to consult with Beijing before another possible summit with the U.S.