Trump meets North Korea’s lead negotiator at White House
North Korea’s lead negotiator on nuclear talks with the US arrived at the White House Friday where he is meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, according to press secretary Sarah Sanders.
“President Donald J. Trump will meet with Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the Workers Party of Korea and Chairman of the Korea Asia Pacific Peace Committee, today at 12:15pm in the Oval Office,” Sanders said in a statement.
“They will discuss relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearization,” she added.
Kim Yong Chol arrived at the White House shortly after meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Washington hotel.
Pompeo made no comments during a camera spray at the top of his meeting with Kim Yong Chol and they both ignored questions on whether a location for a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un has been agreed upon.
State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino did issue a statement following the meeting.
“Secretary Pompeo and Special Representative Steve Beigun had a good discussion this morning with DPRK Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol on efforts to make progress on the commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore,” he said.
Special Representative for North Korea Steve Biegun, Deputy Assistant Secretary Alex Wong, and Special Envoy for North Korea Mark Lambert were also present for Pompeo’s meeting with Kim, according to the pool report.
Kim arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport Thursday evening, bringing with him a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meant for Trump, a source familiar with the denuclearization talks between the US and North Korea told CNN.
His trip to Washington is viewed by some as a sign that the sides are getting closer to reaching an agreement regarding a second Trump-Kim Jong Un summit.
Kim Yong Chol last came to the United States in June. He visited New York and met with Pompeo before traveling to Washington, where he delivered an oversized envelope containing a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump in the Oval Office. The two met for two hours in the White House.
During that visit, Kim Yong Chol was able to break the impasse between Washington and Pyongyang and help get the first US-North Korea summit back on track.
Trump and Kim Jong Un’s summit in Singapore in June ended with a commitment from Kim Jong Un to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but negotiations appear to have stalled since then.
Many critics accuse the Trump administration of failing to get Pyongyang to agree to specifics at their first summit. They say the North Koreans are holding out for a second summit because they believe they can extract greater concessions by meeting with Trump directly, as opposed to working with envoys like Pompeo or Biegun.