Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Abe, Trump to meet before US-N.Korea summit

Abe, Trump to meet before US-N.Korea summit

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

During Moon and Kim's second border meeting Saturday, the two leaders exchanged views on how to prepare for the North's possible summit with Trump.

Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that Kim Yong Chol was "heading now to NY".

"Solid response to my letter, thank you!"

Kim Yong Chol, the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the USA since 2000, was flying to NY on Wednesday. He will be the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the United States since 2000, when late National Defence Commission First Vice Chairman Jo Myong Rok visited Washington, South Korea's Unification Ministry said.

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.

When Kim Yong Chol lands in NY this week, he will become the most senior North Korean envoy to hold talks with American officials on USA soil in 18 years.

He also accompanied Kim Jong Un on both of his recent trips to China to meet President Xi Jinping, and held talks with Pompeo when he travelled to Pyongyang.

"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".

Kim Yong Chol was directly sanctioned by the Treasury Department for his involvement in North Korea's nuclear program and illicit activities while he served as director of intelligence, so the United States would have had to grant a waiver to allow him to enter the country.

"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".

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The talks are focused on the crux of the potential summit - the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Asked what would need to happen for the summit to take place, Sanders told reporters: "Denuclearization has to be on the table and the focus of the meeting".

On Tuesday, South Korea's foreign ministry said it will focus "all efforts" to lay the groundwork for the success of ongoing diplomacy with the North.

When Kim Chang-son was asked by a reporter at Beijing airport if he was flying to Singapore for talks with the USA, he said he was "going there to play", according to footage from Nippon Television Network. Since then, Trump has suggested the meeting could be back on.

The April 27 inter-Korean summit, which produced a vague declaration to work toward denuclearization and a peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula, was meant to serve as a springboard for talks between USA and North Korean leaders.

At the closing ceremony of the Winter Games, Kim Yong Chol was seated in the same VIP box as Trump daughter Ivanka Trump, but they did not speak.

But he has been at his leader's side at key summit meetings this year, and his current trip to Beijing is seen as a stopping-off point for a solo trip to America.

Kim is a former military intelligence chief and now a vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee tasked with inter-Korean relations.

North Korea, in return, would demand the USA normalize its relations with it, ease sanctions against it and remove it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, which could immediately help the North's economy.

Moon said on Monday there could be more impromptu talks between the two Koreas in the lead-up to the summit.

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as US aggression. He was linked by U.S intelligence to a devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

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