Trump confirms North Korean official heading to US for summit talks
02 June, 2018, 01:12 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
The former head of North Korean military intelligence is traveling to NY, according to President Trump, who says Kim Yong Chol is coming to the U.S.to discuss the possible summit with Kim Jong Un.
The U.S. officials are led by Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, who formerly was the U.S. ambassador to Seoul and a top negotiator with North Korea in past nuclear talks. Kim Young (sic) Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to NY.
Trump tweeted earlier that the senior North Korean official was en route to the US, calling the visit a "solid response to my letter".
Tuesday witnessed North Korea's former spy chief Kim Yong-chol at Beijing worldwide airport heading to the United States for talks.
Victor Cha, who was President George W. Bush's top advisor on North Korea and was briefly expected to get Trump's nod as ambassador to South Korea, said Sunday he was now confident the summit will take place.
Russian Federation said Wednesday that its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, will travel to North Korea for talks on Thursday.
The latest flurry of diplomacy began on Saturday, when Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed the North Korea-U.S. summit must be held.
It is unclear when or where Trump and Abe will meet before the anticipated Singapore summit, which the USA president has said in recent days is likely to occur on June 12 after he declared last Thursday that the summit would not be held on that day.
Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk also did not say whether Seoul knew of any USA plans regarding Kim Yong-chol's possible visit, such as whether he and Pompeo have plans to meet.
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.
After the North's combative statements, there was debate inside the Trump administration about whether it marked a real turn to belligerence or a feint to see how far Kim Jong Un could push the U.S.in the lead-up to the talks.
Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to confirm that the official, Kim Yong Chol, was on his way to the US. Another U.S. delegation was in Singapore to work on logistics.
Kim may see a meeting with Trump as necessary to easing pressure from crushing sanctions and to winning security assurances in a region surrounded by enemies.
In the days since, Mr Trump's stance has once again softened, with North Korea and South Korea holding talks aimed at saving the summit.
US and North Korean officials have been continuing preparations for the possible summit. "We can expect that Kim (Yong Chol) is visiting the U.S.in order to do final coordination ahead of the June 12 summit". "This will be our last missile", Kim reportedly told Albright at the time, in an apparent reference to a medium-range ballistic missile the North fired over Japan two years earlier, which stunned the region.
Whether Kim Yong-chol's visit can help remains to be seen but Mr Trump's fiery letter indicates the United States president will require a lot of convincing.
North Korea, in return, would demand the U.S. normalize its relations with it, ease sanctions against it and remove it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, which could immediately help the North's economy. His many positions in party and government make him one of the most powerful people in North Korea, according to the website North Korea Leadership Watch.
He now serves as head of the United Front Department, the arm of the ruling Workers' Party that handles relations with South Korea.
Kim Yong Chol, who is about 72, is a contentious figure outside North Korea.
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