Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

North Korea's Kim Yong-chol at the White House for Trump meeting

Sergei Lavrov GETTYThe Russian Foreign Ministry said the phone call had been organised at the US's request
Leonard Rios | 01 June, 2018, 22:29

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and high-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong Chol enter a second day of meetings in NY on Thursday as they try to settle nuclear weapons disagreements and set the stage for an historic summit between their leaders.

Kim is one of North Korea's most powerful behind-the-scenes figures and an ultimate regime survivalist, according to diplomats and former intelligence officials.

Kim Yong-chol arrived in NY on Wednesday on a flight from Beijing for meetings with Pompeo to discuss how the two sides would address Washington's demand that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. Immediately afterward, he tweeted that he had had substantive talks on the priorities for the potential summit.

North Korea's Kim Yong Chol, centre, leaves a hotel in NY.

The administration is arguing that if the North Koreans want security, it can not come from nuclear weapons.

The 73-year-old Kim, who is the vice chairman of the country's ruling Workers' Party, has served three generations of North Korean dictators.

Kim Yong Chol speaking with Pompeo.

"Our secretary of state is having very good meetings", Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews before departing on a trip to Texas. "That I can tell you". "It is very important to them".

"They're obviously our strategic partner, and they have just been incredibly generous in agreeing to host an upcoming meeting, so I just wanted to highlight that and thank the Government of Singapore for that". We will see what happens.

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The key meeting, scheduled for 12 June, has been jeopardised so far by belligerent statements from North Korea and threats of cancellation from Mr Trump.

President Donald Trump is expected to receive a letter from Kim Jong Un on Friday, and it reportedly offers no concessions and merely asks Trump for a meeting.

Mr Pompeo said a North Korean delegation, headed by high-ranking official Kim Yong-chol, would make a rare visit to the White House on Friday (local time) and give Mr Trump a letter from leader Kim.

"Through these series of meetings, I'm confident we're moving in the right direction". "The people of #NorthKorea can have a brighter future and the world can be more peaceful". The two planned a "day full of meetings" Thursday, the White House said.

"We welcome the contacts that have been developing in the recent months between North and South Korea, between North Korea and the United States", Lavrov said in comments to the media. But there are lingering doubts on whether Mr. Kim will ever fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival in a region surrounded by enemies.

"It's absolutely obvious that when a conversation starts about solving the nuclear problem and other problems of the Korean Peninsula, we proceed from the fact that the decision can't be complete while sanctions are still in place", he said.

To make his trip this week, Kim Yong-chol needed special permission for official travel to the U.S. because he had previously been blacklisted.

"If Kim Jong Un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for North Korea", he said. North Korea's conciliatory response to that letter appears to have put the summit back on track.

But his comments come at a sensitive moment, when a senior North Korean official is in NY for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the planned summit. "That's what these ongoing conversations taking place now will be centred on", including Pompeo's meetings in New York, Sanders said. However, these negotiations ultimately failed. Pompeo and Chief of Staff John Kelly were also spotted inside the Oval Office for the meeting with President Trump. He delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump. After that visit, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to try to set up a meeting between then-leader Kim Jong Il and President Clinton.

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