Summit preparations intensify with Pompeo, top North Korean to meet

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A top North Korean official is on his way to United States for talks about a landmark summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump, as efforts to. make the meeting happen go into overdrive.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also announced that President Donald Trump will host a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe June 7, a week before the Singapore summit.

And on Tuesday, it was revealed that a top North Korean official widely known as leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand man had arrived in Beijing, en route to the United States for a meeting with top US officials.

Chung Sung-yoon, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Kim Yong Chol would be the most senior North Korean official to step onto U.S. soil since Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok met President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Trump last week said he was pulling out of the scheduled June 12 meeting in Singapore, citing North Korea's "open hostility", but then said the talks could still happen.

White House officials maintain that Trump was hopeful the North was merely negotiating but that he was prepared for the letter to mark the end of the two-month flirtation.

On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said U.S. and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom, a village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that runs along the heavily armed border between North and South Korea.

South Korean media had reported earlier that Kim Yong Chol's name was on the passenger list for a fight Wednesday from Beijing to NY.

Even Mr. Trump's critics have credited the president for his negotiating skills in his recent dealings with Mr. Kim, and calling the summit a positive step. He's a former US diplomat who's been involved in negotiations with North Korea over the years. As Kim and Pompeo were meeting in NY, other USA teams were meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore and in the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone.

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Trump tweeted early Tuesday: "We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea".

"Kim Jong Un has been anxious for a long time, and his father before him, to meet with the USA president and develop the appearance for internal political purposes that he's the peer of the American president".

Events have moved quickly since Kim Jong Un made a conciliatory New Year's address at the end of last year, with Trump in March accepting Kim's invitation to meet following months of sharply rising tension and warlike rhetoric between the two.

A spokesman at South Korea's presidential Blue House said he has no specific information about the ongoing talks in the DMZ and NY, but is hoping for good results.

Choe Kang Il, a North Korean foreign ministry official involved with North America issues, was also spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport, according to Yonhap. If he does visit the United States, he would be the most senior North Korean official to do so since 2000. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to NY.

Russian Federation is the latest major nation to reach out to North Korea since Trump accepted Kim's proposal for a summit. He held a welcome-home ceremony in the middle of the night at Joint Base Andrews for the three Americans in yet another sign of improving relations between the US and North Korea that past presidents were unable to achieve. Regarding the date for the meeting, she added, "We're going to continue to shoot for June 12th".

The White House emphasized that it has remained in close contact with South Korean and Japanese officials as preparations for the talks continue. Any visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted.

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. Before he canceled the summit, Trump did not rule out an incremental approach that would provide incentives along the way to the North.

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