President Donald Trump confirmed reports on Tuesday that a top North Korean official is on his way to New York to continue talks with U.S. officials about reviving the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump announced on Twitter that Kim Yong Chol is traveling to New York to prepare for discussions with the U.S. about North Korea’s denuclearization efforts, confirming South Korean media reports that spotted him at a Beijing airport, according to The Associated Press.
The president praised the continued negotiations, calling it a “solid response” to his letter canceling the planned summit previously set for June 12 in Singapore.
We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2018
Kim Yong Chol is a vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea’s ruling party and a former military intelligence chief. His U.S. visit marks the highest-level talks between the two countries on American soil since 2000 when late National Defense Commission First Vice Chairman Jo Myong Rok met with U.S. officials in Washington.
It’s unclear who will be meeting with Kim Yong Chol in New York.
American diplomats have also been busy gearing up for preparatory discussions in the demilitarized border region between North and South Korea. The U.S. team, led by U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, met with their North Korean counterparts on Sunday to continue talks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed a willingness to continue negotiations despite the cancellation of the Singapore summit.
Sung Kim is the former ambassador to South Korea and is a top North Korean negotiator in past talks with the Kim regime.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in previously met with the North Korean leader on Saturday in an effort to revive the summit and to reach an understanding on shared goals between Kim and the U.S.
Trump has expressed his hope that the summit may still happen on the original date set, prompting U.S. teams to prepare for a last-minute meeting if relations between both leaders warm back up in the next few days.