US team in North Korea raises expectations of a Trump-Kim summit

The on-off summit between the United States and North Korea may be on again as North Korea's former head of military intelligence is on his way to New York City to discuss a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Russian Federation says Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will travel to North Korea for talks on Thursday.

North Korean watchers here say that North Korea and the U.S. seem to have reached a broad agreement on the timeline and road map for North Korea's denuclearization - North Korea takes steps to abandon its nuclear weapons program in a short, compressed period of time in return for the United States taking measures to guarantee the Kim Jong-un regime's survival. Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to NY.

"Solid response to my letter, thank you!" tweeted Trump.

Kim Yong Chol serves as vice chairman of the Central Committee of North Korea's Worker's party, which faces independent sanctions from the US government. "The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump's expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore".

Moscow said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would travel to North Korea on Thursday to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear programme. Since then, Trump has suggested the meeting could be back on.

Trump confirmed in a tweet Tuesday that senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol is coming to NY. Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk also did not say whether Seoul knew of any US plans regarding Kim Yong Chol's visit, such as whether he and Pompeo will meet. The North's arsenal now includes purported thermonuclear warheads and developmental long-range missiles potentially capable of reaching mainland USA cities.

Kim Chang-son (L), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's de facto chief of staff, prepares to get into a vehicle as he leaves a hotel in Singapore on May 29, 2018. He also said he told the U.S. president that the issue must be resolved.

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Korea to get protections if deal reached, likely decimation if not
Trump first downplayed the effect of North Korea's reactions on the planned June 21 summit. Mr Trump said he is "willing to do a lot" to provide security guarantees to Kim.

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It remains far from clear how Trump and Kim might be able to bridge what appear to be vast differences in their expectations for what would be a historic meeting.

He is also linked to the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and led the country's delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony in South Korea's Pyeongchang earlier this year.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Kim is set to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he arrives in NY. Trump and Abe "affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs", the White House said in a statement.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning in an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" that the president had "sent over two delegations - one for logistics and one for more diplomatic purposes that are on the ground making the logistic preparations for June 12". The party's statement also said that Kim Yong-chol deserved "death by beating" and called on the government to block the visit. Any visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted.

Analysts believe Washington is trying to determine whether North Korea is willing to agree on sufficient steps towards denuclearisation to allow a summit to take place.

Kim often "explained everything about the South's political and military situation for more than an hour without looking at a script", defector and former army colonel Choi Joo Hwal told the Seoul-based Daily NK news website in 2016. That impromptu session was aimed at salvaging the summit that Trump had said he was scuppering just two days earlier.

The North has previously used the term to demand the United States pull out its 28,500 troops in South Korea and withdraw its so-called nuclear umbrella security commitment to South Korea and Japan.


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