Saturday 19 January 2019

Top Kim envoy in New York to get summit back on track

Mike Pompeo greets North Korea's Kim Yong-chui. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar
Mike Pompeo greets North Korea's Kim Yong-chui. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar

Ben Riley-Smith

A North Korean delegation will hand-deliver a letter from its leader, Kim Jong-un, to Donald Trump tomorrow in the regime's first official visit to Washington for almost 20 years.

The message, a response from Kim to Mr Trump's letter last week cancelling their summit, will be delivered by Kim Yong-chul, North Korea's former spy chief.

It follows a meeting between Mr Kim, the North Korean leader's right-hand man, and Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, in New York in which talks about denuclearisation were said to have progressed.

Photographs of the pair with aides clinking glasses that appeared to contain beer were released on Wednesday.

Diplomats are scrambling to get the June 12 summit between Mr Trump and Kim back on track after the president abruptly withdrew last week. He now wants the meeting to take place.


Two US delegations are in Asia - one in Singapore, another in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea - in an attempt to sort security and policy arrangements in time.

Mr Trump tweeted yesterday that there had been "very good meetings with North Korea" and revealed that Kim's letter would be arriving in Washington soon.

He said: "Our secretary of state is having very good meetings [with the North Korean delegation]. I believe they will be coming down to Washington on Friday. A letter being delivered to me from Kim Jong-un. It is very important to them." Mr Trump also raised the possibility of future summits, saying there may need to be a "second or third" meeting to secure denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

US officials confirmed that they were pushing for "complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation", known by the acronym CVID, as its goal for the talks.

However, Pyongyang has rejected demands to give up its entire nuclear programme before any benefits, such as the lifting of economic sanctions, are delivered by the US.

US officials have urged the North Koreans to lay out their disarmament plans soon, so the summit, now less than two weeks away, can take place.

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