General Kim Yong-chol, the right-hand man of North Korea's leader, will told high-level talks as preparations for a historic June 12 nuclear summit in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un gather pace.
North Korea is sending a senior official to NY for possible talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
North Korea's Kim Yong-chol - the regime's former spy chief and the current director of its department for inter-Korean relations - was spotted taking a flight bound for NY on Tuesday afternoon in Beijing.
A separate USA team led by Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff in the White House, is organizing logistics with Kim Chang Son, who is effectively the North Korean leader's chief of staff.
North Korea's former spy chief, Kim Yong Chol is now a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party. Kim, mainly in charge of protocol matters for the ruling Kim family, is to meet the US delegation led by White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin, adding weight that the on-again, off-again, back-on-again June 12 summit is more likely to happen.
Trump confirmed on Twitter that Kim is coming.
And during his tenure as a senior intelligence official, Kim was accused by South Korea of masterminding deadly attacks on a South Korean navy ship and an island in 2010, and was linked by USA intelligence to a cyberattack on Sony Pictures in 2014.
China said it had no information to offer on any North Korean officials traveling to the United States via Beijing.
The United States and South Korea blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North's nuclear and missile programmes in 2010 and 2016, respectively.
He continued, "You have the meeting".
Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk also did not say whether Seoul knew of any USA plans regarding Kim Yong-chol's possible visit, such as whether he and Pompeo have plans to meet. A US advance team is in Singapore, setting up logistics for a meeting.
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The USA's ambassador to the Philippines is playing a key role in setting up the on-off-on meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump.
Following conciliatory remarks from the North, Trump reversed course and suggested he could still meet with Kim to discuss the dismantlement of the regime's nuclear weapons program.
Washington wants North Korea to quickly give up all its nuclear weapons in a verifiable way in return for sanctions and economic relief.
The delegation met with North Korea's vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui, who sparked Trump's ire last week when she called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy".
Jo's trip came as the two countries were seeking closer ties following North Korea's first-ever summit talks with South Korea in June 2000.
Trump announced that Kim Yong Chol was coming to NY for talks with Pompeo in a tweet on Tuesday in which he said he had a "great team" working on the summit. He arrived in Beijing on Tuesday.
The latest news is that one of North Korea's top officials is traveling to New York City.
On Monday, the legislature failed to ratify the "Panmunjom Declaration", an agreement Kim and Moon signed at a summit in April to seek "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula". It's the second time the USA team has traveled to Singapore in recent weeks.
United States officials familiar with planning said Kim was scheduled to meet Pompeo on Thursday, The Associated Press reported. There's also speculation that American officials are trying to persuade the North Koreans to export a certain number of their nuclear warheads overseas at an early stage as proof of their commitment to denuclearize.
The April 27 inter-Korean summit, which produced a vague declaration to work toward denuclearization and a peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula, was meant to serve as a springboard for talks between US and North Korean leaders. "As you know, there are meetings going on as we speak in a certain location, which I won't name, but you'd like the location", he told reporters in Washington.