President Trump confirms North Korean official headed to New York

Hugh Fox
May 29, 2018

"We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea".

US and South Korean officials haven't confirmed the details of the pre-summit negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang at the border.

The summit was originally scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Moon could travel to Singapore for a three-way summit with Kim and Trump next month, Yonhap reported yesterday.

"A U.S. delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom", said Heather Nauert, spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, in a statement. The Trump administration has pushed for a quick timeline, while North Korea favors a phased approach.

Another track is the original intelligence channel, and there is keen interest to see if there is a follow-up high-level meeting between Pompeo and North Korea's Kim Yong-chol.

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His conservative critics, however, say Moon should be reinforcing the US-South Korea alliance rather than acting as a neutral facilitator between North Korea and the United States.

Howard X also made an appearance as Kim at the Winter Olympics in Gangneung in South Korea in February, bewildering North Korean cheerleaders who initially thought their leader had walked into a hockey stadium.

The two diplomats have crossed paths several times in the past, especially during the six-party negotiation process.

Kim Yong-chol, North Korea's former spy chief, would become the highest ranked official from the isolated nation to visit the United States since 2000.

"The most meaningful thing in the latest South-North Korea summit was the fact that we skipped complicated procedures and protocols and met casually as if holding an everyday meeting", Moon had said then.

"Leading up to the summit, I anticipate his role will be an extension of the work he is doing now", said Wi Sung-lac, former South Korean nuclear negotiator with the North, "persuading both sides to remain at the table as they negotiate in advance of the summit, and helping them see points they can agree on". In response to reporters' questions regarding the report, South Korea's defence ministry said it does not have plans to change joint exercise schedules with the United States military. The North Korean side is led by Kim Chang Son, who effectively serves as chief of staff to Kim Jong Un.

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North Korea has faced years of isolation and economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. "They are going to be best friends right after this meeting".

The U.S. has stated it is ready to trade with and invest in North Korea if it achieves complete denuclearization.

Seoul did not confirm reports that the North Korean officials were headed by Kim Chang-son, Kim Jong-un's close associate, and that his American counterpart would likely be White House deputy chief of staff for operations Joe Hagin. He was one of the top officials who was castigated by the South for his alleged involvement in a series of North Korea attacks such as the 2010 torpedo clash that led to the death of 46 South Koreans.

Trump withdrew from the on-again-off-again summit last Thursday, after several turbulent days of diplomatic brinkmanship that culminated in an abrupt letter written by the president to Kim Jong Un citing Pyongyang's "tremendous anger and open hostility".

Due to sanctions against him, Kim Yong Chol is banned from visiting the United States normally.

American and North Korean officials then met at the North-South Korean border on Sunday.

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The general was also one of the welcoming party for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent visit to Pyongyang, and his planned trip to Washington is thought to be a reciprocal gesture.

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