North Korean official headed to New York: President Trump

Marsha Scott
May 30, 2018

A top North Korean official was headed to NY on Tuesday 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 Korean leader Kim Jong Un may go ahead next month.

The flurry of diplomatic activity intensified Tuesday after South Korean media reported that Kim Yong Chol's name was on the passenger list for a fight Wednesday from Beijing to NY.

Trump previously revealed on Twitter that his team of negotiators had already arrived in North Korea, apparently led by Sung Kim, the USA ambassador to the Philippines who has prior experience negotiating with North Korea.

Kim Yong Chol serves as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and director of the United Front Department of the WPK Central Committee.

"Solid response to my letter, thank you!" tweeted Trump.

"Since the president's May 24 letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the North Koreans have been engaging", she said.

Over the weekend, a team of United States diplomats met with North Korean officials in the Demilitarised Zone and White House logistics experts have been talking with North Koreans in Singapore about arrangements for the leaders' meeting there.

The spokeswoman also said that a USA pre-advance team, led by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, was now in Singapore coordinating the logistics of the expected summit.

It's unclear how the New York, Singapore and DMZ meetings will differ from each other.

This comes after Trump on Tuesday said Chol is heading to NY to hold talks over the likely summit.

The reports indicate that planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for June 12, is moving ahead after Trump called it off last week.

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"Abe wants to get the precise nuance of the US negotiating policy", said Yoichi Sato, a professor of worldwide security studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has travelled to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, twice in recent weeks for meetings with Kim Jong Un, after which he said there was a "shared understanding" between the two sides about what they hope to achieve in the summit.

"We're in uncharted water", said Bruce Klingner, a former Central Intelligence Agency division chief for Korea who is now at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Pompeo said during an interview on "Fox News Sunday" earlier this month that the US would need to "provide security assurances" stipulating that Kim may stay in power as part of the denuclearization negotiations.

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.

She says Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's vice chairman of the Central Committee, is traveling to NY and will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week.

Since then, Trump has voiced optimism that the face-to-face could still take place.

She said Trump will meet Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in the White House on June 7, before the summit.

Trump aides have emphasised that the president believes his personal commitment to the negotiations can help break a cycle of failure over U.S. negotiations to contain the North's nuclear weapons program that extends back almost three decades.

"I believe that if anyone were to travel beyond NY that they would need additional waivers for that, or they would need some sort of an approval for that", Nauert said.

North and South Korea affirmed their commitment to the goal of denuclearisation of the peninsula at a summit last month, and Pyongyang announced at the weekend it will destroy its only known nuclear test site next week.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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