Russian foreign minister to head to North Korea
- Author: Tracy Klein Jun 01, 2018,
Jun 01, 2018, 16:45
General Kim, whose official title is vice-chairman of the central committee of North Korea's Workers' Party, has a background in military and civilian intelligence agencies and is a deeply controversial figure in South Korea.
Lee was speaking to reporters in London on Sunday, after US President Donald Trump said a delegation was dispatched to the Korean truce village of Panmunjom to prepare for the summit.
A new US intelligence assessment has concluded that North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear weapons any time soon, three USA officials told NBC News - a finding that conflicts with recent statements by President Trump that Pyongyang intends to do so in the future.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that since the letter, "the North Koreans have been engaging" with the U.S.
Their talks will be aimed at determining whether a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un, originally scheduled for June 12 but later canceled by Trump, can be restored, US officials have said.
Trump reversed course on Friday, saying both sides wanted the meeting to happen and it could still go ahead after productive talks.
Seoul blames him for masterminding the 2010 sinking of the South Korean navy corvette the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, an attack North Korea denies playing any role in.
Trump views a summit as a legacy-defining opportunity to make the nuclear deal that has evaded others, but he pledged to walk away from the meeting if he believed the North wasn't serious about discussing dismantling its nuclear program.
Washington is looking for signs that Kim is ready to accept that talks must lead to him giving up his nuclear arsenal and if the letter is well received it will mark an extraordinary diplomatic turn-around.
The summit is scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12.
North Korea's flurry of diplomatic activity following a torrid run in nuclear weapons and missile tests in 2017 suggests that Kim Jong Un is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the worldwide legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide. US and North Korean officials held preliminary talks at the Korean border and were expected to hold a separate set of working-level meetings in Singapore to discuss protocol, security and other logistical issues for the summit.
He sat next to Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is also a White House aide, during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang which was a turning point in the nuclear crisis.
Even so, the North's perceived thirst for USA economic aid has consistently been the message coming from Trump and his senior officials. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on June 7 to coordinate their thinking ahead of the summit. South Korean media speculated that Pompeo could make a third trip to Pyongyang and that Kim Yong Chol was carrying a personal letter from Kim Jong Un and might push to travel to Washington to meet with Trump.
USA and North Korean officials have been continuing preparations for the possible summit. Trump hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week. But the North Korean leader also said he was unsure whether he could trust the United States to end hostile policies against North Korea and provide security assurances if the country does abandon its nuclear weapons, according to Moon.
Their second meeting came after inter-Korean relations had chilled in recent weeks, with North Korea canceling a high-level meeting with Seoul over South Korea's participation in a two-week military exercise with the United States that ended last week.