Trump To Receive Kim Jong Un's Letter As Nuclear Summit Takes Shape

Sergei Lavrov

GETTYSergei Lavrov is set to visit North Korea following an invitation from Ri Yong-ho

Top American and North Korean officials are holding a full day of meetings in NY on Thursday aimed at deciding whether a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can be salvaged.

In the meeting with Kim Yong Chol, Trump added, "we talked about a lot". While Cho said an agreement would "not be impossible" to strike during the talks, the run-up to the scheduled June 12 summit has somewhat devolved into a war of the wills over who more wants the meeting. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former Central Intelligence Agency chief who has traveled to North Korea and met with Kim Jong Un twice in the past two months, said he believed the country's leaders are "contemplating a path forward where they can make a strategic shift, one that their country has not been prepared to make before".

Kim Yong-chol, a former spy chief and four-star general, became the first top North Korean official to visit the White House in 18 years.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said late on Thursday that the details of Friday's meeting between Kim Yong-chol and Trump in Washington were still being worked out. The big thing will be on June 12. He later noted that he had not opened the letter.

Lavrov invited Kim to Russian Federation, and called for a phased approach to denuclearization, including easing of worldwide sanctions on North Korea. He said he had just met with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's top nuclear weapons negotiator.

Kim Yong Chol is the highest ranking North Korean official to visit the United States in almost two decades.

Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, arrived at JFK International Airport earlier in the day, becoming the highest-ranking North Korean to visit the USA since 2000.

"It went very well", the president told reporters following the letter-delivery.

However, less than 24 hours later, the USA leader hinted that the meeting may still take place, citing "very productive talks" with North Korea and its commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue. Disputes between Washington and Pyongyang led Trump to cancel the meeting, only to see a renewal of diplomatic efforts in recent days. "It's hard to envision a scenario, in which Kim Jong-un would be satisfied with any security guarantees that the United States might offer in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons", he said. They walked along the Rose Garden to the Oval Office, where Kim was expected to hand over the letter from his leader.

Gen Kim has previously served as chief of Pyongyang's top military intelligence agency, and was sanctioned twice by US and South Korea for his role in supporting North Korea's nuclear and missile programme in 2010 and 2016.

United States officials have also confirmed that imagery shows technical equipment was removed from the tunnel complex prior to the detonations, indicating the North Koreans were keeping gear for potential reuse.

After the meeting, Mr Trump said Mr Kim was committed to denuclearisation, and that the letter from Mr Kim was "a very nice letter, a very interesting letter".

Kim Yong Chol left his hotel in New York City early Friday for the trip to Washington in a convoy of SUVs.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov met the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un in one of his rare visits to Pyongyang, North Korea. "But I see over a period of time".

He said the delegation would also try "to create positive atmosphere for a US-North Korea summit".

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