Russian foreign minister to head to North Korea

The US President was speaking as he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House

A senior North Korean official is headed to NY for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the latest indication that an on-again-off-again summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader may go ahead next month.

He is among the small number of North Korean officials who have accompanied leader Kim Jong Un to all four of his recent summits- twice with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and twice with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea is sending a senior official to NY for possible talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Moreover, the dispatching of one United States diplomatic team to Singapore, where the June 12 summit was scheduled to take place, and another to the North Korean side of the Korean Peninsula's demilitarized zone for meetings Tuesday with senior North Korean officials, underscored the intensive efforts under way to put the summit back on track.

Kim Yong Chol, the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the USA since 2000, was flying to NY on Wednesday.

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

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"It's a good thing to have him onboard", said a former senior South Korean official who worked with Sung Kim in past.

The former spy chief is a trusted aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, playing a pivotal role in preparations for an historic summit between Kim and Trump.

Zhiguang Yin: It is important that the summit continues, I'm sure it is in the interest of North & South Korea and the interests of the United States and nowadays in the interests of China, that the negotiations continue. He also attended the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February at the start of Kim Jong Un's charm offensive.

Moon and Kim Jong Un held a surprise meeting on Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed that a North Korea-U.S. summit must be held.

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against perceived aggression by the United States, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Two weeks of hard-nosed negotiating, including a communications blackout by the North and a public cancellation by the USA, appeared to be paying off as the two sides engaged in their most substantive talks to date about the meeting.

The North Koreans, after expressing initial enthusiasm about diplomacy with the U.S. earlier this month, did not show up for a preparatory meeting in Singapore, threatened to use nuclear force and referred to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as a "political dummy".

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The foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Lavrov would hold talks with North Korea's foreign policy chief to discuss bilateral issues as well as the overall situation on the Korean Peninsula.

If the June 12 date stands, officials have only two weeks to finalize details such as where in Singapore the talks will take place and how internationally sanctioned North Korean officials will travel there.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning in an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" that the president had "sent over two delegations - one for logistics and one for more diplomatic purposes that are on the ground making the logistic preparations for June 12".

North Korea's flurry of diplomatic activity following a torrid run in nuclear weapons and missile tests in 2017 suggests that Kim Jong Un is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the global legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide. He's on a US sanctions list, so Kim Yong Chol needed a special waiver to go to NY, where the North Koreans have a diplomatic mission to the U.N. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that since the letter, "the North Koreans have been engaging" with the U.S.

The Washington Post reported that talks inside the Demilitarised Zone would continue this week between United States and North Korean officials.

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

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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.

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