Sunday, 24 June, 2018

North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol Heading to NY

The US President was speaking as he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House Source 1 NEWS
Jay Anderson | 02 June, 2018, 01:14

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

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

In Singapore, delegations from Washington and Pyongyang are working out logistics - where the two heads of state will meet, which officials are to hold how many meetings, security issues and how much will be open to the press. Sung Kim, the former United States ambassador to South Korea who is now ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, a U.S. official told Reuters.

General Kim Yong-chol landed at Beijing airport today and will journey on to NY tomorrow after talks with Chinese officials, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, which cited diplomatic sources. Officials are discussing the substance of any summit agreement, focusing on the thorny issue of denuclearization, with a North Korean team led by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui.

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.

Trump's aides will soon assess whether Kim Jong Un is willing to take serious steps before making a final decision on whether to go ahead with the summit, the US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It is unclear when or where Trump and Abe will meet before the anticipated Singapore summit, which the US president has said in recent days is likely to occur on June 12 after he declared last Thursday that the summit would not be held on that day. USA officials familiar with planning said he was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday.

"The president and prime minister affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs". The North's arsenal now includes purported thermonuclear warheads and developmental long-range missiles potentially capable of reaching mainland US cities. The White House said a "pre-advance" team was travelling to Singapore to meet North Koreans.




Since then, North Korea has rejected USA demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear program, which experts say could threaten the United States.

US and South Korean officials haven't confirmed the details of the pre-summit negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang at the border.

Most analysts say it is extremely unlikely that North Korea will surrender its nuclear weapons.

While Kim Yong Chol's trip to the United States could further brighten the prospects for the summit, history shows that things could still crumble at the last minute even after an exchange of high-level officials. That impromptu session was aimed at salvaging the summit that Trump had said he was scuppering just two days earlier.

In 2016, he took charge of the United Front Department, the civilian intelligence agency which supposedly operates pro-North Korean groups in South Korea and handles inter-Korean affairs. Any visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted.

The general is a notorious figure in South Korea, where he is accused of masterminding the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan navy corvette, which killed 46 sailors, an attack for which North Korea denies responsibility.

He holds a number of senior positions within North Korea's communist hierarchy. Trump later confirmed this information in his Twitter. North Korea has rejected unilateral disarmament and called for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula without defining what that entails.

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