A North Korean envoy arrived in Washington on Thursday for expected talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a possible encounter with President Donald Trump aimed a laying the groundwork for a second U.S.-North Korea summit، Reuters reported. The envoy arrived on the same day Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy that singled out North Korea as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat،” seven months after he declared after his first summit with leader Kim Jong Un that the North Korean threat had been eliminated.
Kim Yong Chol، Pyongyang’s lead negotiator in denuclearization talks with the United States، was due to meet Pompeo and could also go to the White House on Friday، a person familiar with the plan said، a sign of potential movement in a diplomatic effort that has appeared stalled for months.
The North Korean visit could yield an announcement of plans for another summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un، the source said، speaking on condition of anonymity.
There has been no indication، however، of any narrowing of differences over U.S. demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States or Pyongyang’s demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.
Kim Yong Chol، a hardline former spy chief، arrived in Washington on a commercial flight from Beijing، South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported. Yonhap and other South Korean media said he was greeted at Dulles airport by Stephen Biegun، the U.S. special representative for North Korea. Pompeo had planned to meet his North Korean counterpart to discuss a second summit last November، but the meeting was postponed at the last moment.
Diplomatic contact was resumed after Kim Jong Un delivered a New Year speech in which he said he was willing to meet Trump “at any time،” South Korea’s ambassador to the United States، Cho Yoon-je، told reporters last week.
Kim Yong Chol was last in Washington in June، when he delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump that opened the way for the June 12 summit in Singapore.
That meeting yielded a pledge from the latter to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and Trump declared the next day that there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”