Trump to meet Abe before 'expected' Kim summit

South Korean President Calls For More Impromptu Talks With North Korea

President Donald Trump has confirmed that top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol is heading to NY for talks on an upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, despite Trump calling off his meeting with Kim in Singapore on June 12, preparations on both sides of the Pacific proceed as if the summit were back on track.

During a meeting in St. Petersburg on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Abe insisted "the most important (thing) is for North Korea to carry out full and irreversible denuclearization".

The US and South Korea previously blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North's nuclear and missile programmes in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

Trump tweeted earlier that the senior North Korean official was en route to the USA, calling the visit a "solid response to my letter". Later, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said the nations' officials have been engaged in talks at the Korean village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border inside the demilitarized zone, or DMZ.

Japan is also keenly watching summit preparations. Moon said on Sunday that Kim requested the meeting, only the fourth ever by leaders of the two countries since the Korean War.

The official traveling to NYC is General Kim Yong Chol, whom the Wall Street Journal reports is "often described as the North Korean leader's right-hand man".

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A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that delegations from the U.S. and North Korea were still in talks to possibly go ahead with the June 12 meeting, which had been canceled by Trump on Thursday citing "open hostility" from Kim.

Kim Yong Chol, the former military intelligence chief and one of the North Korean leader's closest aides, landed midafternoon on an Air China flight from Beijing. He used the restricted VIP entrance, according to AFP journalists.

Pompeo has travelled to Pyongyang twice in recent weeks for meetings with Kim Jong Un, and has said there is a "shared understanding" between the two sides about what they hope to achieve in talks. Regarding the date for the meeting, she added, "We're going to continue to shoot for June 12th".

The trip is part of a flurry of diplomacy before the on-again, off-again summit.

His upbeat language contrasted sharply to that of only three days earlier, when Trump canceled the planned summit, citing "open hostility" from the North.

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.

"They plan to have additional meetings this week", Sanders said.

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While Kim Yong Chol's trip to the United States could further brighten the prospects for the summit, history shows that things could still crumble at the last minute even after an exchange of high-level officials.

Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk also did not say whether Seoul knew of any USA plans regarding Kim Yong-chol's possible visit, such as whether he and Pompeo have plans to meet.

It was at Kim that South Korean intelligence pointed the finger of blame when the Cheonan corvette was torpedoed in 2010, and when artillery units shelled a border island, killing four people.

Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee and formerly head of a top North Korean military intelligence agency, will meet with Pompeo later this week, the White House said.

His journey to the USA caps a frenetic few days of meetings between North Korean and American officials.

Kim Yong Chol, a four-star general who has been at the forefront of North Korea's diplomatic outreach, landed at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, according to television footage from the airport.

The key task is to settle the agenda.

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