WASHINGTON – High-level talks aimed at finalizing a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are planned for this week in Washington, U.S. officials said Thursday.
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 a Kim visit to the White House, where he could meet with Trump, according to two officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Neither the U.S. nor North Korea has announced any meetings, although Kim Yong Chol arrived earlier Thursday in Beijing, where he was booked on a flight to the U.S., 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.
Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit with Kim early this year and has exchanged multiple letters with the North Korean despite little tangible progress on a vague denuclearization 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.
At a conference of U.S. diplomats at the State Department on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged the lack of progress. 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 Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol in New York last November was called off abruptly. U.S. officials said at the time that North Korea had canceled 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 denuclearization. The official said Trump and Kim Jong Un had established a “good relationship” and that U.S.-North Korea conversations were continuing.
The official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two sides were “working to make progress” on the denuclearization goal and that 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 U.S. 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.
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