Top North Korean official arrives in NY for talks with Pompeo

Top North Korean official arrives in NY for talks with Pompeo

A North Korean official has arrived in NY for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of what the White House says is an "expected" summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

On Wednesday night, Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

And in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) along the border between South Korea and North Korea, a US delegation headed by Sung Kim, the current ambassador to the Philippines and former ambassador to South Korea between 2011 and 2014, and a North Korean delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui are set to meet for the second time this week.

Trump said he was hopeful his summit with Kim in Singapore would take place on Jun 12 as originally scheduled, but left open the possibility talks would fall through.

In Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un welcomed visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the first meeting between a Russian official and Kim as head of state.

North Korea's Kim Yong-chol, the top intelligence adviser to Kim Jong-un, was headed to the USA on Wednesday for meetings in NY with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "We welcome the summits that already took place between Pyongyang and Seoul as well as planned meetings between North Korean and USA leadership".

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said the demolition of the nuclear test ground in Punggye-ri last Thursday was a part of its "active and bold" decision to join the aspiration and efforts of the global community for a total stop to nuclear tests.

Lavrov's trip to Pyongyang comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity to organize a historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo's meeting with Kim Yong Chol in NY is going on at the same time as talks are underway in two other locales.

"I think it was a good thing if meeting in person and having a direct conversation about each other's intentions helps us proceed to the next step", said Lee Tae-kyoung.

But within 24 hours he reversed course, saying it could still go ahead after productive talks were held with North Korean officials.

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He sat next to Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is also a White House aide, during February's closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea, an event that was seen as a turning point in the nuclear crisis.

The last known top meeting involving a North Korean official in the United States dates back to October 2000 when US President Bill Clinton met with Jo Myong Rok, a vice marshal who was sent as a special envoy of then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, at the White House.

Trump, the official said, "can make a fly or no-fly decision anytime he wants", referring to the possible Singapore summit.

The adviser, Dr Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico and now a Stanford professor, argues that the best the United States can hope for is a phased denuclearisation that goes after the most unsafe parts of the North's programme first.

But the leadership in Pyongyang is believed to regard nuclear weapons as crucial to its survival and has rejected unilaterally disarming.

The report also details that Kim may offer "limited American investment in North Korea, particularly in infrastructure".

To drive the point home, the State Department released a photo of Pompeo pointing out of the condo's window to the splendour of the NY skyline, as if to say to the two North Koreans by his side that the same kind of wealth could be theirs, too.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Kim landed shortly after 2 p.m. on an Air China flight from Beijing.

"I just want to highlight the great work that the Government of Singapore has done and how much assistance that they have provided to the United States, especially Prime Minister Lee in particular, who has been gracious with his time, gracious with all their efforts in helping the United States to plan for this summit", stated Nauert, a former newscaster with ABC News and Fox News.

Kim Yong-chol, who is making his first USA visit, is the most senior North Korean on U.S. soil since Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok met then-president Bill Clinton in 2000.

North Korea will try to maintain its nuclear program in some capacity, said Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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