Both sides preparing as if US-North Korea summit is a go

South Korean President Calls For More Impromptu Talks With North Korea

According to The Post, Sung Kim, a former United States ambassador in South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with North Korea, crossed the inter-Korean border to meet with Choe Son Hui, a senior diplomat in Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry.

The tensions have once again cooled in the wake of Trump's letter and Trump has made clear he is eager for the summit to take place on June 12 - but U.S. officials have warned publicly and privately that they would be strained to reschedule the summit for that date.

Kim Yong Chol, who is about 72, is a contentious figure outside North Korea.

Trump tweeted earlier on Tuesday that the senior North Korean official was en route to the US, calling the visit a "solid response" to his letter.

"The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump's expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore", said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

This.as an extension of the North Korea-U.S. working-level talks that took place twice this week at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom.

Chung Sung-yoon, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Yong-chol would be the most senior North Korean official to step onto United States soil since Vice-Marshall Jo Myong-rok met President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Kim Yong Chol is to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

They discussed their shared goal of achieving "the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs".

North Korean leader Kim's de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, meanwhile, flew to Singapore, the scheduled site of the meeting, via Beijing late on Monday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

Kim Yong-chol was also seen sitting just metres away from Ivanka Trump at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February this year.




It comes less than a week after Mr Trump wrote to Kim Jong-Un cancelling the summit, which was planned to take place in Singapore next month. Another U.S. delegation was in Singapore to work on logistics.

Kim Yong Chol, a four-star general who has been at the forefront of North Korea's diplomatic outreach, landed at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, according to television footage from the airport. One can cross the border simply by stepping across a painted line, but moving beyond several footsteps into the North at Panmunjom would be rare for US officials.

While Kim Yong Chol's possible trip to the United States could further brighten the prospects for the summit, history shows that things could still crumble at the last minute even after an exchange of high-level officials.

During his time as North Korea's military intelligence chief, Gen Kim was accused of masterminding attacks on the South Korea warship Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.

But that did not stop North Korea's state media from continuing its criticism of allied military exercises on Tuesday, saying if Washington "sincerely hopes for the talks, it should stop the acts of threatening its dialogue partner by force".

Kim Yong Chol's official title is a vice chairman of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party.

He holds a number of senior positions within North Korea's communist hierarchy.

But events have moved quickly since Kim Jong Un made a conciliatory New Year's address at the end of last year, following months of sharply rising tension and war-like rhetoric between Trump and Kim. Since then, North Korea has rejected U.S. demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

When Pence visited South Korea for the Olympics, he visited a memorial honoring the sailors who died.

The former intelligence chief is also thought to be behind the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures and was among those sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in its aftermath.

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