Kim Summit: Meetings between US, North Korean officials rev up

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in embrace at their meeting in the DMZ

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in embrace at their meeting in the DMZ

USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo will meet with a top North Korean general in NY this week, as preparations for a historic summit meeting in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in full swing, the White House said on Tuesday.

He also accompanied Kim Jong Un on both of his recent trips to China to meet President Xi Jinping, and held talks with Pompeo when he traveled to Pyongyang.

Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, arrives at the closing ceremony.

"Since the president's May 24th letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the North Koreans have been engaging", Sanders said.

During that period North Korea ramped up its hacking programmes, including a hugely costly penetration of Sony Pictures.

As the rapprochement with the United States has picked up pace, Kim Yong Chol appears to have taken on a broader remit to deal with the Trump administration.

Kim is also widely believed to be behind the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean Naval vessel, in which 46 seamen died.

Another "pre-advance" team is heading to Singapore to meet with North Koreans, the White House said.

Trump could still walk away from the summit, and Lee said he should be wary of "meaningless" gestures, like allowing some outside inspectors of a nuclear facility or a recent demolition of a nuclear testing ground.

It has long said it is open to eventually giving up its nuclear arsenal if the USA withdraws its troops from South Korea and ends its "nuclear umbrella" alliance with Seoul.

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The earlier meetings focused on how to guarantee the North Korean regime's security by establishing diplomatic relations with the return for Pyongyang giving up its nuclear program.

The apparent introduction of Gen Kim to negotiations would be significant, as it would underline North Korea's desire to ensure the talks go ahead.

It comes less than a week after Mr Trump wrote to Kim Jong-Un cancelling the summit, which was planned to take place in Singapore next month.

Meanwhile, a team of American diplomats are holding preparatory discussions with North Korean officials at the DMZ.

Now a vice chairman of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party, Kim will be the most senior North Korean official in years to visit the US.

Kim Yong Chol would be the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years.

At their first meeting on April 27, Kim and Moon announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and permanent peace, which Seoul has tried to sell as a meaningful breakthrough that increases the chances of successful talks between Kim and Trump.

Kim Sung-han, dean of Korea University's Graduate School of International Studies and a former vice foreign minister under conservative president Lee Myung-bak, added that Moon should also be zeroing in on implications for South Korea.

He "will be authorized to speak on behalf of Kim Jong Un, and his intricate knowledge of the various policy issues at play means that US officials will regard what he says as a bellwether for the DPRK's intentions at the summit".

According to NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, Abe - who was meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation over the weekend - conveyed both Japan's and Russia's support for the summit meeting to go forward. "They very much want to do it".

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