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Daily Trends Now


Senior North Korean official heads to NY to plan for Trump summit

Senior North Korean official heads to NY to plan for Trump summit

General Kim Yong-chol, the right-hand man of North Korea's leader, will told high-level talks as preparations for a historic June 12 nuclear summit in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un gather pace.

Led by Sung Kim, the USA ambassador to the Philippines and former U.S. ambassador to Seoul, the United States officials first met their counterparts including Choe Son-hui, North Korea's vice foreign minister, on Sunday. Sung Kim, the former USA ambassador to South Korea who is now ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, a USA official told Reuters.

"Solid response to my letter, thank you!"

The former spy chief's current official position is vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea, but he rose to prominence as Pyongyang's chief military negotiator during inter-Korean talks between 2006 and 2008. He will be the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the United States since 2000, when late National Defence Commission First Vice Chairman Jo Myong Rok visited Washington, South Korea's Unification Ministry said.

The two countries, as well as South Korea, have since worked to reschedule the meeting, with the White House this weekend sending a team of American officials to Singapore to meet North Koreans and prepare should the summit go forward.

If Trump and Kim Jong Un do end up meeting, the president hopes to convince the North Korean leader to agree to the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The meetings were trumpeted by Trump later Sunday afternoon, when he tweeted, "Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself". Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk also did not say whether Seoul knew of any USA plans regarding Kim Yong Chol's visit, such as whether he and Pompeo would meet.

"The President and Prime Minister affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs", the White House statement read.




"Since the president's May 24 letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the North Koreans have been engaging", she said. "The fact that Kim Yong-chol is visiting the USA - that in itself means that coordination between the two is nearly over, . with only a few factors left to be resolved".

Trump said on Twitter that the summit could take longer than one day. Another U.S. delegation was in Singapore to work on logistics.

When Kim Chang Son was asked by a reporter at Beijing airport if he was flying to Singapore for talks with the United States, he said he was "going there to play", according to footage from Nippon Television Network. Since then, Trump has suggested the meeting could be back on. "As the Hermit Kingdom's black operations chief, Kim has had a bloody hand in some of the rogue nation's most notorious attacks on South Korea and even US cyber targets", writes Fox News.

While Kim Yong Chol's trip to the United States could further brighten the prospects, history shows that plans for a summit could still crumble. Any visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted. After a round of talks on Monday, the two sides met again on Tuesday, presumably to discuss details, including specific timelines, on how the global community will ensure security for Kim's regime if it relinquished its nuclear arsenal.

"If the report that Kim Yong Chol is on his way to Washington is true, we now know that the main discussion of the agenda and any possible deal will take place there, not in Panmunjom".

Kim Yong Chol previously was chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a top North Korean military intelligence agency, and has spent almost 30 years as a senior member of the intelligence community.

North Korea, which refers to its nuclear weapons program as its "treasured sword" keeping the country safe, has repeatedly said it is not interested in unilateral disarmament. North Korea denied any involvement in the attacks.

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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