White House: Pompeo to Meet Top N. Korean Official in NY

Saturday, 02 Jun, 2018

Most analysts say it is extremely unlikely that North Korea will surrender its nuclear weapons. Sung Kim, the former USA ambassador to South Korea who is now ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, a USA official told Reuters.

Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee and formerly head of a top North Korean military intelligence agency, will meet Pompeo later this week, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Kim Yong-chol, North Korea's former spy chief, would become the highest ranked official from the isolated nation to visit the U.S. since 2000, when Pyongyang sent Vice Marshal Jo Myong-rok to meet then-President Bill Clinton.

The president cited what he called hostile comments from the North in shutting down the meeting.

During his unusual visit, Kim Yong Chol had dinner for about an hour-and-a-half with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who traveled from Washington to see him. "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting", Trump wrote in a published letter to Kim Jong Un. South Korean media speculated that Pompeo could make a third trip to Pyongyang after Kim Yong Chol's USA trip.

Trump confirmed Tuesday that Kim was to hold talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The meeting is the latest in a flurry of diplomacy as the two sides lay the groundwork for a historic first summit, planned for June 12.

Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to confirm that the official, Kim Yong Chol, was on his way to the US.

Last week U.S. president Donald Trump pulled the United States from the summit, telling Kim Jong-un in a long-winded and at times freakish letter North Korea as displayed "tremendous anger and open hostility".

On Sunday, US negotiators, headed by Washington's ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, began meeting North Korean counterparts in the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas. Moon said Sunday, May 27, that Kim committed in the rivals' surprise meeting to sitting down with President Donald Trump and to a "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula". It remained unclear whom Kim Yong Chol will meet in the United States. He also made an appearance as Kim Jong Un in this year's winter olympics.

USA officials have talked about a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later.

The talks are expected to continue this week.

Reportedly a gifted linguist, Kim has appeared at ease in worldwide settings, and even attempted a joke with Seoul reporters who visited Pyongyang in April for a pop concert.

China, North Korea's longtime ally and chief trading partner, has sought to position itself as a key intermediary in talks over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Since the 1970s, the United States and South Korea have been holding a major summertime exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian that involves tens of thousands of troops. The North's arsenal now includes purported thermonuclear warheads and developmental long-range missiles potentially capable of reaching mainland US cities.

Seoul blames him for masterminding the 2010 sinking of the South Korean navy corvette, the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, an attack North Korea denies playing any role in.

The former intelligence chief is also thought to be behind the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures and was among those sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in its aftermath.

There could be division under Kim within North Korea's hierarchy about the diplomatic approach to the Americans, according to Bennett.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Kim is set to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he arrives in NY.

Abe also referred to the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents decades ago.