Senior North Korea envoy to hold talks in U.S. about summit
A senior North Korean official is headed to New York for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the latest indication that an on-again-off-again summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader may go ahead next month, APA reports quoting Reuters.
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea,” Trump said in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young (sic) Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!”
Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee and formerly head of a top North Korean military intelligence agency, will meet with Pompeo later this week, the White House said.
“The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump’s expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore,” it said in a statement.
The North Korean envoy was scheduled to fly to the United States on Wednesday after speaking to Chinese officials in Beijing, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.
The talks show that planning for the unprecedented summit, initially scheduled for June 12, is moving ahead after Trump called it off last week in a letter to the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
A day later, Trump, who frequently exchanged insults with Kim Jong Un before they began talking about a summit, said he had reconsidered and officials from both countries were meeting to work out details.
Kim Yong Chol will be the most senior North Korean official to meet top officials for talks in the United States since Jo Myong Rok, a marshal, met then-President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000.
Kim Yong Chol coordinated the North Korean president’s two meetings with Pompeo in April and May.
North Korea has faced years of isolation and economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. The North had tested missiles believed to be capable of reaching the United States but Trump has vowed not to let Pyongyang develop one that could deliver a nuclear warhead.
North Korea has rejected U.S. demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear program. It defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as U.S. aggression. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
This week’s talks and meetings on the border between North and South Korea are aimed at determining whether North Korea is prepared to make sufficient commitments toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons, a U.S. official said.
Kim Jong Un has sent favorable signals in recent days and Trump’s aides will soon assess whether he is willing to take serious steps before making a final decision on whether to go ahead with the summit, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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