North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has deployed his top aide to the U.S. in preparation for the June summit with President Donald Trump.
Kim Yong Chol is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, following his arrival at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport just after 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Kim, 72, a four-star general and vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, has been leading the nation’s diplomatic outreach. The former spy will be the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the U.S. in nearly two decades, according to Bloomberg. In 2000, Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok traveled to the U.S. to meet with then-President Bill Clinton.
The president has put pressure on his advisers to move quickly on plans to meet with Kim as they pursue an agreement on the steps to denuclearize North Korea.
What did Trump say?
Trump confirmed Kim Yong Chol’s visit in a tweet Tuesday morning.
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea,” the president tweeted Tuesday morning. “Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!”
We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2018
What about South Korea?
Kim Jong Un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in held a meeting on Saturday, at Kim’s request.
Moon could join the two leaders in Singapore next month, but the decision will be dependent on the ongoing talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
“At the moment we are considering the possibility (of Moon traveling to Singapore), but basically it depends on the outcome of the current talks,” a spokesperson for Moon told Agencia EFE.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim arrived in North Korea on Monday where he is working with North Korean leaders on arrangements for the June 12 summit in Singapore between Kim Jong Un and Trump.
Additionally, another aide to the North Korean leader, Kim Chang Son, has traveled to Singapore to discuss security and logistics for the summit, Japanese news NHK reported.