A high-ranking North Korean official is headed to New York as the United States and North Korea pursue restoring the stalled peace summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
Last week, Trump abruptly called off the planned summit, citing “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent North Korean statements.
North Korea quickly responded, calling Trump’s decision “regrettable” and expressing a desire to go forward with the meeting.
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan announced the country was willing to sit down with the United States “at any time, at any format” and wished “to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider, The Associated Press reported.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday said that since Trump’s letter canceling the summit, “the North Koreans have been engaging,” with the U.S.
“The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump’s expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore,” she said in a statement.
In a further diplomatic effort from North Korea, the country has now sent Kim’s right hand man to meet with top Trump administration officials.
Kim Yong Chol — a top lieutenant, spy chief and vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party — was seen arriving at Beijing’s airport on Tuesday after a flight from Pyongyang, The Wall Street Journal reported. He then boarded his flight to New York after meeting with Chinese officials.
The White House said Kim will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week, primarily to discuss rescheduling the peace summit.
Trump confirmed Kim’s visit on Twitter.
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea,” Trump wrote. “Meetings are currently taking place concerning summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!”
Sanders said the president also plans to consult with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on June 7.
Kim will be the highest ranked North Korean official to visit the United States in almost two decades. As noted by Fox News, his history will the United States and North Korea has been less than peaceful.
“As the Hermit Kingdom’s black operations chief, Kim has had a bloody hand in some of the rogue nation’s most notorious attacks on South Korea and even U.S. cyber targets,” Fox News reported.
“The U.S.-bound official is believed to have plotted the attack on Cheonan, a South Korean warship, and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 that left 46 sailors dead. He’s also accused of planting landmines across the Demilitarized Zone, according to Yonhap News Agency.”
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