DPRK envoy US bound as White House ‘actively prepares’ for summit

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In this image made from video, Kim Yong Chol, right, a former military intelligence chief who is now Kim Jong Un’s top official on inter-Korean relations, walks through Beijing airport after his arrival Tuesday, May 29, 2018. He was at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s side at the table in last weekend’s North-South summit, and had been a prominent senior official in other important talks. It was not possible to confirm the reason for his visit to Beijing, or if he would be traveling on to another destination. (AP Photo)

Washington and Pyongyang are shifting into overdrive to prepare for their possible summit. Kim Jong Un sent one of his top aides to New York for talks with the U.S. Secretary of State.

General Kim Yong Chol is the highest-ranking official from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to visit the United States since 2000. Kim Yong Chol is officially banned from traveling to the U.S. – due to sanctions against him for supporting the DPRK’s weapons programs – and likely requires a waiver to enter the country.

CGTN’s Nick Harper explains the latest efforts to get the Singapore summit back on track.

U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed the trip in a tweet, writing that the Vice Chairman of the DPRK, General Kim Yong Chol would travel to New York City for the meeting. President Trump promised that the “Summit and more” would be up for discussion. Trump said he had put “a great team together” to meet the General, which is expected to happen on Wednesday, with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joining.

The 72-year-old former intelligence chief has recently become a high-profile diplomatic figure, helping with the inter-Korea talks and appearing with Ivanka Trump at the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony in February. This meeting is the firmest suggestion yet that the June 12th summit – which President Trump canceled last week – could be back on.

In addition to the New York talks, a U.S. team has traveled to Korea’s demilitarized zone to lay the groundwork for the summit. They are meeting with DPRK and ROK officials. U.S. and DPRK officials are also meeting in Singapore, the location of the planned summit.

Additionally, U.S. and Japan leaders have agreed to meet ahead of a possible summit. The White House says President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet on June 7th in Washington D.C. So, lots of activity and meetings. But still no confirmation that the Trump-Kim summit is definitely back on. And if it is on, whether June 12th is still the date.