Senior North Korea official arrives in Washington for talks
Finalising second US-North Korea summit focus of meetings
North Korean official Kim Yong-chol prepares to leave the Beijing International Airport on Thursday. Photograph: Kyodo News/AP
High-level talks aimed at finalising a second summit between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are planned for this week in Washington, US officials said.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo is expected to meet former North Korean spy chief Kim Yong-chol at a Washington hotel on Friday.
The meeting will likely be followed by Kim Yong-chol visiting the White House, where he could meet with Mr Trump, according to two officials.
Neither the US nor North Korea has announced any meetings, although Kim Yong-chol arrived earlier on Thursday in Beijing, where he was booked on a flight to the US, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
A motorcade that included the North Korean ambassador’s car and a Chinese car with a sign reading “state guest” could be seen departing from a VIP area at the airport.
Mr Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit with Mr Kim early this year and has exchanged multiple letters with the North Korean despite little tangible progress on a vague denuclearisation agreement reached at their first meeting in Singapore last June.
Since then, several private analysts have published reports detailing continuing North Korean development of nuclear and missile technology.
He called the Trump-Kim dialogue “promising” but stressed that “we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region”.
A planned meeting between Mr Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol in New York last November was called off abruptly. US officials said at the time that North Korea had cancelled the session.
A White House official, while not confirming plans for Friday’s meeting, said “a lot of positive things” are happening related to North Korea’s denuclearisation.
The official said Mr Trump and Kim Jong-un had established a “good relationship” and that US-North Korea conversations were continuing.
The official said the two sides were “working to make progress” on the denuclearisation goal and that Mr Trump “looks forward to meeting Chairman Kim again at their second summit at a place and time yet to be determined”.
The talks had stalled over North Korea’s refusal to provide a detailed accounting of its nuclear and missile facilities that would be used by inspectors to verify any deal to dismantle them.
The North has been demanding that the US lift harsh sanctions and provide it with security guarantees before it takes any steps beyond its initial suspension of nuclear and missile tests.
Kim Jong-un expressed frustration in an annual new year’s address over the lack of progress in negotiations.
But on a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.– AP