Top North Korean official, Pompeo meet to discuss summit

Kim Jong-un committed to complete denuclearisation, says Moon Jae-in after North-South 'surprise' summit

He is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, according to USA officials familiar with the planning.

There is speculation that Kim, during his US visit, may meet with Trump.

A top lieutenant for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is reportedly about to travel to the United States to discuss a possible summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, a clear sign, if it happens, that preparations are in the final stage. The White House National Security Council tells NPR's Scott Horsley that the USA delegation in Panmunjom is distinct from the team led by Hagin. South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited diplomatic sources as saying that Kim was on an Air China flight to NY that departed later Wednesday afternoon.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that since the letter, "the North Koreans have been engaging" with the U.S.

Trump and Kim Jong Un were set to hold their summit June 12 in Singapore, but Trump announced last week that he was pulling out of the meeting.

Both sides have been eager to hold the meeting after tensions flared a year ago over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests.

Seoul blames him for masterminding the 2010 sinking of the South Korean navy corvette the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, an attack North Korea denies playing any role in.

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". But there are lingering doubts on whether Kim will every fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival in a region surrounded by enemies.




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.

A senior North Korean official is headed to NY to discuss an upcoming summit, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, the latest indication that an on-again-off-again meeting between Trump and North Korea's leader may go ahead next month. We're looking at June 12 in Singapore.

North Korea's flurry of diplomatic activity following a torrid run in nuclear weapons and missile tests in 2017 suggests that Kim Jong Un is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the global legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide.

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

He sat next to Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is also a White House aide, during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang which was a turning point in the nuclear crisis.

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as USA aggression. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on June 7 to coordinate their thinking ahead of the summit. The two met earlier in May, during Pompeo's second visit to Pyongyang in a month. Trump hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week.

Trump tweeted earlier that the senior North Korean official was en route to the USA, calling the visit a "solid response to my letter".

While there have been a few instances in which countries were persuaded to abandon their nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief and compensation, none of the cases are directly applicable to North Korea, which has advanced its nukes further and with greater zeal than any of the others. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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