Asia Senior North Korean official heads to US

Senior North Korean official heads to US

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Kim Yong-chol

 One of North Korea’s most influential officials is on his way to the United States, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap Tuesday.

Kim Yong-chol, a vice central committee chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.

The notorious former spy chief’s very presence on American soil will be an indicator that negotiations are going well to lay the groundwork for an unprecedented summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Yong-chol’s trip had been predicted as a final step to confirm preparations for the planned Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore on June 12, which was cancelled and then seemingly resurrected within the last week.

An American delegation led by ex-nuclear negotiator Sung Kim has also been in talks this week with counterparts from the North at the inter-Korean border.

A diplomatic source revealed to Yonhap that they were set to continue their dialogue until around Wednesday, having started on Sunday to discuss the delicate matter of how North Korea will fulfil its recent vow to denuclearize and what security guarantees may be offered by the U.S.

But it appears that Washington and Pyongyang are expecting the Trump-Kim summit to happen, as separate teams representing both sides were lined up to meet in Singapore Tuesday to handle practical issues such as security.

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