NEW YORK – A senior North Korean official and the top U.S. diplomat had a dinner in New York as President, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un try to save the prospects for a high-stakes nuclear summit. It is the highest level of the official North Korean visit to the United States in 18 years.
Kim Yong Chol, the former chief of military intelligence and one of the North Korean leader’s closest collaborators, landed midafternoon Wednesday on a flight from Air China to Beijing. Associated Press journalists saw the plane taxi to the asphalt, the North delegation went to JFK International Airport.
During his unusual visit, Kim Yong Chol had dinner for about an hour-and-a-half with the state of Mike Pompeo, who travelled from Washington to see him. The two were planning a “day of meetings” Thursday, the White House said. Their conversations are intended to determine whether a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-Un, which originally was scheduled for June 12, but later cancelled by Trump, can be restored, AMERICAN officials have said.
The discussions, the preparations for the long-awaited summit in Singapore were rolled forward on both sides of the Pacific, despite the continued uncertainty about whether it really will happen, and when. If Kim and Pompeo meeting in New York, the other AMERICAN teams were meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore and in the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone.
“If it happens, we will certainly be ready,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the Singapore summit. With regard to the date of the meeting, she added, “We will continue to shoot for the 12th of June.”
North Korea’s flurry of diplomatic activity after a torrid run in nuclear weapons and missiles tests in 2017 suggests that Kim Jong-Un is eager for sanctions relief in order to build the economy and the international legitimacy of the summit with Trump would offer. But there are lingering doubts about the question of whether Kim will ever fully relinquish its nuclear arsenal, which he sees as the only guarantee to survive in an area surrounded by enemies.
Trump announced that Kim Yong Chol was to New York for consultation with the Pompeo in a tweet on Tuesday in which he said that he was “a great team” working on the top. That was a shift from last week when Trump announced in an open letter to Kim Jong-Un that he had decided to “dissolve” the top after a provocation from the North.
Pompeo, Asset of the former CIA chief, has traveled to Pyongyang twice in recent weeks for meetings with Kim Jong-Un, and has said there is a “shared understanding” between the two parties about what they hope to achieve in the talks. South Korean media speculated that Pompeo was a third trip to Pyongyang and that Kim Yong Chol was carrying a personal letter from Kim Jong-Un, and it would be the pressure to travel to Washington for a meeting with Trump.
North Korea is the mission of the United Nations in New York is the only diplomatic presence in the United States. That suggests Kim might have chosen to first go to New York, because it would make it easier for him to communicate with officials in Pyongyang, North Korea capital. North Korea and the United States are still technically at war and have no diplomatic relations because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not peace.
Trump views on a top of a legacy-defining the possibility of the nuclear deal that others missed, but he promised to walk away from the meeting if he believed the North was not seriously discuss the dismantling of its nuclear program.
After the North of the warring states, there was a debate in the Trump administration on the question of whether it was a real turn to belligerence or a feint to see how far Kim Jong-Un and could push the U.S. in the run-up to the talks. Trump figured out that Kim’s “attitude” had changed after the North Korean leader’s surprise visit to China, two weeks ago, which suggests that China pushed Kim away from the table. Trump’s letter, the assistants said, was designed to pressure the North on the international stage appears to have cold feet.
White House officials claim that Trump was hopeful the North had only to negotiate, but that he was willing for the letter at the end of the two months of flirtation. Instead, the officials said, it brought both sides to the table, with increasing seriousness, as they work through numerous logistical and policy decisions to keep June 12 a viable option for the top.
Kim Yong Chol, a vice-chairman of the North Korean ruling party’s central committee. The last official of his status to the United States was Jo Myong Rok, the end of the first vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission, who is visiting Washington in 2000, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.
The White House stressed that it remained in close contact with the South Korean and Japanese officials as preparations for the talks continue. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will host the Japanese Prime minister shinzo Abe of Japan on June 7 for the coordinate of forward thinking from the top. Trump hosted South Korean President, Moon Jae-in the past week.
Moon, who has loudly lobbied for nuclear negotiations between Trump and Kim Jong-Un, had a special meeting with the North Korean leader Saturday in an attempt to reach the top of life.
Lederman reported from Washington and Bodeen in Beijing. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller, and Catherine Lucey in Washington and Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.