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18 Jan, 2019 04:05

Top N. Korean official lands in Washington to discuss 2nd Trump-Kim summit with Pompeo – report

Top N. Korean official lands in Washington to discuss 2nd Trump-Kim summit with Pompeo – report

A senior North Korean official, Kim Yong-chol, touched down in Washington DC where he was welcomed by a US envoy, Yonhap reported. He is reportedly in the US to thrash out the details of a new bilateral summit.

Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the North Korean Workers' Party Central Committee, arrived at Washington's Dulles International Airport on Thursday evening. The visit was not announced by either of the sides.

The North Korean negotiator and his entourage were reportedly welcomed at the airport by a team of US officials led by Stephen Biegun, a US special representative for North Korea, who was spotted at the airport ahead of Kim's reported arrival.

When asked about the visit, Biegun refused to answer reporters' questions. The whole visit has been a bit of a mystery with neither Washington nor Pyongyang shedding any light on the arrangement.

The North Korean delegation kept a low profile as it left the airport through a side exit, accompanied by their US counterparts, according to Yonhap.

The agency reported earlier that Kim's plane departed from Beijing earlier in the day and was making a direct flight to the US capital. He is widely expected to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who himself has travelled to North Korea on numerous occasions.

The top item on the meeting's agenda is said to be preparations for a second meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The meeting has been in the works for some time. Speaking early January, Trump said that he has received another "great" letter from his North Korean counterpart and expects to meet him in the "not too distant future." 

According to Trump, the parties are in the process of agreeing on a venue for the meeting.

There was no word as to whether Trump would meet with Kim Yong-chol while the latter is in Washington. Yonhap reported that the North Korean representative might pay a "courtesy call" on Trump and hand him another letter from Kim.

Also on rt.com Kim pledges denuclearization, but warns N. Korea will seek ‘a new way’ if US flouts promises

Speculation has been rife as to what country might host the second summit, with Vietnam, Singapore (which hosted the first one), and even Hawaii being mentioned as the most probable contenders.

The Southeast Asian country of Vietnam has been touted as the most likely venue and is reportedly preparing to welcome Kim for a state visit in early February.

The summit in Singapore went without a breakthrough in terms of denuclearization, as Trump and Kim signed a vaguely-termed commitment to pursue a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. While the summit carried huge symbolic value and triggered a lot of self-praise by Trump for averting an all-out war with Pyongyang, progress has since stalled, with North Korea demanding sanctions relief and threatening to reverse course if Washington chooses to "cling to sanctions and pressure."

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