Seoul-One of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s top officials is traveling to the United States as the two countries lay the groundwork for on-again, off-again talks between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.
Trump himself confirmed the news of Kim Yong Chol’s trip to the US early Tuesday, tweeting: “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!”
Once he touches down on American soil, Kim would be the most senior official to visit the United States since 2000, when Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok traveled to Washington to meet with former US President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. Then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to North Korea later that month.
His trip comes as the United States and North Korea attempt to revive the summit, a potential diplomatic triumph for two countries technically still at war.
The talks nearly fell apart last week when Trump said he was calling off the June 12 meeting in Singapore, following incendiary comments from a senior North Korean foreign ministry official who called Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy.” The White House also said in a background briefing that North Korean officials hadn’t answered their calls, frustrating their attempts to plan for the meeting.
But after a conciliatory statement from North Korea, Trump revived hopes for the meeting late Saturday night. Over the weekend Kim Jong Un called an impromptu meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the Demilitarized Zone and reiterated his commitment to denuclearizing.