Russian foreign minister to head to North Korea

Arturo Kim
May 31, 2018

The White House says it is continuing to "actively prepare" for an "expected summit" between Trump and Kim in Singapore which had been scheduled for June 12. "We're talking to them now".

WIT: Well, Kim Yong Chol, as you said, is a very important official in the North Korean government.

The Koreas' talks, which Mr Moon said Mr Kim requested, capped a whirlwind 24 hours of diplomatic back-and-forth.

"So the key issue in the bilateral negotiations will be to what extent the North would accede to the US demand", he added.

Mr Kim may see the sit-down with Mr Trump as necessary to easing pressure from crushing sanctions and to winning security assurances in a region surrounded by enemies.

Pompeo has taken the lead on efforts regarding North Korea in recent months and twice visited the nation and has met with Kim Jong Un.

A visit to the United States would be the highest-level North Korean official visit since 2000, when late national defence commission first vice chairman Jo Myong Rok visited Washington, South Korea's Unification Ministry said. Rather, the North Koreans are angry because Trump is not budging from his demand, when what they want are front-loaded economic benefits in exchange for promises of "mutual" and "synchronous" arms reductions.

After the North's combative statements, there was debate inside the Trump administration about whether it marked a real turn to belligerence or a feint to see how far Kim could push the the lead-up to the talks. The Washington Post first reported the team met with Choe Son Hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister.

They agreed to have their top officials meet again on June 1. He added that he will also discuss the summit cancellation with Putin. In the wake of the unexpected inter-Korean talks between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump said the original plan hasn't changed.

But events have moved quickly since Kim Jong Un made a conciliatory New Year's address at the end of last year, following months of sharply rising tension.

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On May 16, North Korea criticized USA national security adviser John Bolton, who had called for North Korea to quickly give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that would mirror Libya's abandonment of its program for weapons of mass destruction.

But South Korea, which has lobbied hard for the talks between Trump and Kim, has insisted that Kim can be persuaded to abandon his nuclear facilities, materials and bombs in a verifiable and irreversible way if offered credible security and economic guarantees.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is all set to meet the vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, General Kim Yong Chol this week, reports Reuters.

The White House on Thursday morning released Trump's letter to Kim, in which he canceled the planned Washington-Pyongyang summit.

North Korea has been keeping China in the loop regarding its recent surge in diplomacy with South Korea and the US, and Lavrov's trip may be aimed at doing the same for Russian Federation, which was part of a stalled six-party process to bring about the North's denuclearization.

It remains unclear whom Kim Yong Chol would meet in the United States if he goes. The U.S. has also accused Kim of orchestrating the 2014 hack that exposed thousands of emails from executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

A USA official told Reuters that Sung Kim, the former US ambassador to South Korea, would lead an American delegation to meet North Korean officials at the border.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said he was to arrive in NY on Wednesday. The two leaders embraced as Moon departed.

Analysts believe Washington is trying to determine whether North Korea is willing to agree on sufficient steps towards denuclearisation to allow a summit to take place.

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