Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's former spy chief, is traveling to NY to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to come to Washington for a meeting with Trump June 7, five days ahead of the scheduled summit, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
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.
The former spy chief is a trusted aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, playing a pivotal role in preparations for an historic summit between Kim and Trump.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh AH'-bay) at the White House on June 7. "I sincerely believe that North Korea has brilliant potential to one day become a great economic and financial nation". But Kim, through two summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March and May, has called for a phased and synchronized process in which every action he takes is met with a reciprocal reward from the United States.
Kim Yong Chol was spotted at Beijing's airport just after noon ahead of the North's highest-level mission to America in 18 years. "Thank you all very much we appreciate it. Congratulations everybody".
In addition to the team on North Korea that Pompeo set up previous year when he was Central Intelligence Agency director, he has now enlisted veteran USA diplomat Sung Kim to help in the process, a senior US official said. Kim Young (sic) Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to NY.
During a meeting in St. Petersburg on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Abe insisted "the most important (thing) is for North Korea to carry out full and irreversible denuclearization". "We should be eating a hamburger on a conference table, and we should make better deals with China and others", Trump said at the time. So we're looking at June 12th in Singapore.
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On Wednesday, the North Korean delegation in Singapore, headed by Kim Chang Son, a senior official at the State Affairs Commission, made contact with Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House.
The on-again-off-again talks, centered around denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, have seen a flurry of activity in recent days since Trump sent a letter to Kim Jong Un calling off their high-stakes diplomatic date.
Moon, who has lobbied hard for nuclear negotiations between Trump and Kim Jong Un, held a surprise meeting with the North Korean leader Saturday in an effort to keep the summit alive.
North Korean watchers here say that North Korea and the U.S. seem to have reached a broad agreement on the timeline and road map for North Korea's denuclearization - North Korea takes steps to abandon its nuclear weapons program in a short, compressed period of time in return for the United States taking measures to guarantee the Kim Jong-un regime's survival.
"No matter how experienced and knowledgeable these officials are, they will not be able to change the fundamental challenge between the United States and North Korea over its status as a nuclear power". Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.
Kim Yong Chol's trip comes amid two sets of other pre-summit talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
South Korea's presidential office said Moon will personally announce the outcome of Saturday's summit with Kim on Sunday.