Trump to meet with Japan's Abe at White House on June 7
30 May, 2018, 11:38 | Author: Dustin Murphy
He will be the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the United States since 2000, when late National Defense Commission First Vice Chairman Jo Myong Rok visited Washington, South Korea's Unification Ministry said.
South Korean media earlier reported that Kim Yong-chol's name was on the passenger list for a fight Wednesday from Beijing to NY.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said North Korea had been engaging with the United States on the possible summit, which her statement described as "expected", but did not specify a date.
Mr Trump confirmed on Twitter that Kim Yong Chol was "heading to New York" for talks that are hoped to put the summit scheduled for June 12 back on track. She was referring to talks over the weekend between USA and North Korean officials in the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas and a White House logistics team's discussions with North Korean counterparts in Singapore. Meanwhile, meetings are taking place, he said, in preparation of a summit between Trump and the communist dictator Kim Jong Un.
Kim Yong-chol, a four-star general in the North Korean military and a former intelligence official who is allegedly implicated in an attack on a South Korean ship that killed almost 50 sailors in 2010, is due to arrive at JFK Airport on Wednesday afternoon after a stopover in Beijing, the Washington Post reported. Pompeo and Kim have reportedly met in the past during the secretary of state's recent trips to Pyongyang. It remains unclear whom Kim Yong Chol would meet in the United States if he goes.
Trump cited hostile comments from North Korea as the reason he withdrew from the potentially historic summit. That landed him on the US sanctions list, which bars him from entering the USA, which mean he's likely been granted a waiver to make the trip to NY.
The ex-spy chief has served all three leaders in the Kim dynasty and headed the General Reconnaissance Bureau intelligence agency for roughly 30 years. He and Kim Jong Un's sister were the only North Korean officials to attend the first inter-Korean summit in April alongside the North Korean leader.
He was also accused by South Korean officials of masterminding the sinking of the Cheonan naval corvette in 2010, in which 46 of the South's sailors were killed.
Kim Yong Chol's numerous titles and positions in North Korea make him one of the country's most powerful individuals.
The United States targeted Kim Yong Chol with sanctions.
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.
Kim was probably headed to NY, where North Korea has a mission to the United Nations, rather than to Washington because it was easier for him to get a visa there, another U.S. diplomat said. The North Korean government has softened its tone somewhat in the wake of this move, which has seemingly convinced the Trump administration to move forward with preparations for the talks.
In a Monday phone call, Trump and Abe affirmed that they would meet ahead of the planned summit and discussed their shared goal of "complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs", the White House said in a statement.
"Earlier on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he and North Korea's Kim had agreed during a surprise meeting on Saturday that the North Korea-U.S. summit must be held", Reuters reported.
He's also criticized Trump's travel ban and accused the president of having "routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words". The event was planned by the NAACP, the Justice League of New York City, the National Action Network and the Women's March.
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