WASHINGTON • A top North Korean official is set to meet US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Washington later this week, according to people familiar with the matter, signalling that a second summit between the two countries’ leaders could happen soon.
Kim Yong Chol, a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is scheduled to be in Washington today as part of negotiations over their country’s nuclear programme, according to three of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.
Two of the people said his plans included a meeting with Trump. Asked for comment, a State Department spokesman said there were “no meetings to announce”.
The announcement of the first summit’s date came when Kim Yong Chol — a former North Korean spy chief involved in decades of nuclear talks — visited Trump at the White House last June. About 10 days after that visit, Trump and Kim held their unprecedented summit in Singapore.
That Trump and Pompeo are planning to meet Kim Yong Chol suggests that talks between the US and North Korea, which had stalled after Singapore, may be gaining momentum. The announcement of a date and place for a second summit could come as early as tomorrow, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported yesterday, citing an unidentified diplomatic source.
A crucial stumbling block has been North Korea’s insistence that it get relief from crippling economic sanctions as it takes steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons.
The US has demanded the sanctions stay in place until Pyongyang’s nuclear programme is fully dismantled.
Pyongyang, meanwhile, has called for a step-by-step approach in which its efforts to roll back the programme are met by incentives from Washington.