The State Department said Secretary Mike Pompeo is meeting Kim Tong Chol to discuss “preparations for President Trump’s expected summit with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore.”
“Secretary Pompeo will travel to New York City, May 30-31, to meet with DPRK Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee Kim Yong Chol,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. “The Secretary and Vice-Chairman Kim will discuss preparations for President Trump’s expected summit with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore.”
The comment from the State Department underscores just how optimistic the Trump Administration remains about the viability of the summit. Last week, President Trump pulled out of the summit, which was initially scheduled for June 12, sending a bold letter to Chairman Kim that left the door open to future talks.
The decision came after North Korea destroyed a nuclear site but also as Chairman Kim’s behavior was clearly influenced by his neighbor to the North. Speaking directly and through diplomatic channels to Chairman Kim, President Trump has repeatedly guaranteed his personal and national safety, as well as regime credibility.
Within hours of the letter being sent, the North Koreans reached out to Secretary Pompeo. The president confirmed the visit on Twitter, which is the first to the U.S. by a high-ranking North Korean official in 18 years.
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea,” President Trump tweeted. “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!”
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
If it takes place, the nuclear summit would be the first-ever between the U.S. and North Korea after more than six decades of hostility.
Chairman Kim announced that he suspended Pyongyang’s nuclear testing program in anticipation of the summit, which included a freeze on intercontinental ballistic missile tests and the closing of a nuclear site.
The development came after North Korea announced they dropped demands for a freeze to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises and the withdrawal of U.S. troops as preconditions for talks.