Preparations for Trump-Kim summit continue
The preparations for US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un summit seems to be progressing well. Tuesday witnessed North Korea’s former spy chief Kim Yong-chol at Beijing international airport heading to the United States for talks.
Kim Yong-chol, a senior official with close ties to the North Korean leader, was seen by journalists who reported he was on his way to the US. He is considered to be Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man and serves as the vice central committee chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.
US President Donald Trump confirmed Kim Yong-chol’s destination though his tweet post.
We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2018
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has also reported Tuesday morning that Kim Yong-chol arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning and reserved a flight to New York City. The agency said it is “widely expected” that Kim would travel to the US “to reciprocate recent visits” by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Chung Sung-yoon, an analyst at the Seoul based Korea Institute for National Unification, said Kim Yong-chol would be the most senior North Korean official to step onto US soil since 2000. Vice Marshall Jo Myong-rok met then-president Bill Clinton in that year.
Kim Yong-chol was also seen sitting just metres away from Ivanka Trump at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February this year.
On Thursday last Donald Trump cancelled the first-ever meeting between US and North Korean leaders only to change his mind a day later.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said it will focus “all efforts” to lay the groundwork for the success of ongoing diplomacy with the North. “We will closely monitor the situation and play every role we can,” ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk was quoted as saying.
Read More: Trump-Kim Summit not happening on June 12
On Monday, veteran American diplomat Sung Kim led an American delegation to Panmunjom at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) for talks with North Korean officials. Reports said that talks continued until Tuesday.
American officials are skeptical that North Korea will ever entirely abandon its nuclear weapons, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in said North Korea isn’t convinced it can trust security guarantees from the US.
Observers believe that recent Trump’s announcement of withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal has caused a huge dent on US image. It has become difficult to trust US administration after Washington’s withdrawal from a multilateral agreement.