North Korea believes there is a "strong possibility" of a second summit between Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, according to an official with close knowledge of Pyongyang's position on the matter.
The official pointed to a recent exchange of letters between Trump and Kim as a positive sign, adding that although the date and location of the summit have yet to be determined, it would take place "sometime later this year."
The news came as doubts mounted over whether Trump's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June would deliver its goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
At the weekend North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho called America's actions since the June 12 Singapore summit "alarming," highlighting economic sanctions and a lack of a Korean War peace treaty as major issues that could derail the nuclear talks.
The official said the latest North Korean statements were a "negotiating tactic to put pressure" on the Trump administration ahead of US midterm elections. North Korea hopes that Trump and Kim will negotiate denuclearization terms that are more favorable to Pyongyang, the official added.
Pyongyang is looking to Washington to make a "bold move" for the talks to continue, CNN reported last month.
South Korea's Presidential Spokesperson Kim Eui-keum said on Monday the South is "asking North Korea to speed up its denuclearization" and asking the US to "show sincere efforts about corresponding measures that North Korea is demanding."
Both Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have urged patience, but pressure is mounting against holding further talks.
A confidential United Nations report has accused North Korea of continuing to develop nuclear and missile programs in violation of international sanctions.
The report also said North Korea was defying sanctions through diplomats and others based overseas and continued to sell conventional weapons to fuel violence.
Last month, Pompeo was repeatedly asked to provide clarity on the issue of North Korea during a fiery Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, as US lawmakers pressed for verifiable evidence to back up claims that talks are headed in the right direction.
When pressed by lawmakers on progress being made on denuclearization, Pompeo admitted that North Korea continues to produce weapons-grade fissile material.
Pompeo's meetings with his North Korean counterparts have yielded mixed results. He originally traveled to Pyongyang in April, paving the way for the historic June summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore, but other meetings haven't gone so well.
A statement carried by state-run news agency KCNA in the wake of Pompeo's most recent visit to Pyongyang said: "The US is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, the demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset."
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