Kim coup-proofs his team before planned Trump-summit

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The decision to move ahead with the summit came after a week of frenzied diplomacy topped off with a top North Korean official visiting the White House to deliver Trump a letter from Kim.

The country's top three military officials have been replaced with younger, more "moderate" figures who have more "flexibility in thinking" than their predecessors, according to an unnamed intelligence source quoted in the South Korean media.

South Korea's unification and defence ministries declined to confirm the report, while an official at the Unification Ministry said the government was watching the leadership situation in the North very closely.

The KCNA report said Assad made the comments about a possible trip to North Korea last Tuesday while receiving the credentials of the North Korean ambassador.

After an global scramble to salvage the briefly canceled summit between the US and North Korea, it appears President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are on track to meet in Singapore next week for their historic tête-à-tête.

Nam Sung-wook, an analyst with Korea University in Seoul, said Kim Jong Un might have been displeased when one of his targets, Ri Myong Su, was seen dozing off during one of his speeches.

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The U.S. delegation to the preparatory talks for the summit have stayed at the hotel.

The moves are likely meant to surround Kim with a younger, even more trusted cohort of officials whom he can rely on as he confronts a slew of domestic and worldwide issues, said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University's 38 North website.

They said North Korea must also agree to suspend ballistic missile tests and commit to robust inspections.

The historic meeting between Mr Trump and Kim would be the first between sitting USA and North Korean leaders.

The debate over USFK's future role arose after Trump indicated Friday that he had talked about the issue of the USFK during his meeting with Kim Yong-chol, the highest-ranking North Korea official to visit the USA in 18 years. Under the current cost-sharing agreement signed in 2014, South Korea provides $830 million per year for the upkeep of USA forces. Though Trump initially suggested that the goal of the June 12 talks was denuclearization, he has since scaled back the scope of his goals, describing the upcoming meeting as more of a "get-to-know-you situation" and the start of "a process".

U.S. officials believe there was some dissension in the military about Kim's approaches to South Korea and the US.

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