Top N. Korean Official Heading to US for Talks on Summit
WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Donald Trump has confirmed a top North Korean official is to visit New York for talks related to a planned summit between Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
“Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York,” Trump wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
Hours earlier, news reports said Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling party and former military intelligence chief, was at the Beijing airport. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim planned to fly Wednesday to New York.
Trump sent a letter last week to Kim Jong Un saying the summit scheduled for June 12 would not happen, blaming what he said was “tremendous anger and open hostility” shown in a statement by the North Korean leader.
But negotiations between the two countries have continued, including talks Sunday at the Korean demilitarized zone.
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more,” Trump said Tuesday.
White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin and others from the Trump administration flew Sunday to Singapore, the planned site for the summit.
“They traveled to Singapore to focus on logistics preparations,” a White House official confirmed to VOA News on Monday.
Before the Trump-Kim meeting, the U.S. president also plans to hold face-to-face discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We agreed to meet before the U.S.-North Korea summit,” Abe said in Tokyo following a Monday telephone call with Trump
Trump and Abe also “affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and ballistic missile programs,” according to a White House statement.
Trump and Abe are to attend the Group of Seven economic summit June 8-9 in Canada, but may meet at the White House prior to that, according to officials in Washington and Tokyo.
It is unclear when or where Trump and Abe will meet before the anticipated Singapore summit.
South Korean President Moon Jae-In could also be going to Singapore next month for a three-way summit with his U.S. and North Korean counterparts, a government official in Seoul said Monday.
After a surprise meeting Saturday between Kim and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president said the North Korean leader is still committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.
The U.S. has called for “complete, verifiable and irreversible” dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal. North Korea has rejected unilateral disarmament and called for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula without defining what that entails.
The North Koreans, after expressing initial enthusiasm about diplomacy with the United States earlier this month, did not show up for a preparatory meeting in Singapore, threatened to use nuclear force, and referred to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy.”
But North Korean state media subsequently reported on Kim’s “fixed will” that a summit with Trump should go ahead.
During Moon and Kim’s second border meeting Saturday, the two leaders exchanged views on how to prepare for the North’s possible summit with Trump.
“It was like an ordinary encounter between friends,” Moon told reporters. “What’s uncertain for Kim is not his intention to denuclearize, but the U.S. stance in hostile relations with North Korea and whether the U.S. can really secure and guarantee his regime.”
Ira Mellman and Victor Beattie contributed to this report