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North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol Heading to NY
June 21 2018, 12:27 | Irvin Gilbert
Kim Jong-un commits to North Korea denuclearization as U.S. delegation arrives
Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to NY.
Trump tweeted earlier that the senior North Korean official was en route to the US, calling the visit a "solid response to my letter".
Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party, was seen at the worldwide airport in Beijing, after arriving on a Koryo Air flight from Pyongyang, South Korean news service News 1 reported Tuesday.
The talks indicate that planning for the unprecedented summit on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, initially scheduled for June 12, is moving ahead after Trump called it off last week in a letter to the North's leader, Kim Jong Un.
Prime Minister Abe has expressed firm support for the US throughout the ups and downs of the summit-planning process, confirming last Friday that he supported Trump's surprise decision to withdraw the June 12 summit. Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for East Asia and one of the officials who accompanied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang earlier this month, also is in Seoul.
"June 12 is in 10 minutes", a senior White House official said Thursday from the White House podium after Trump issued his letter, explaining that USA officials had already lost a week during which North Korean officials went radio silent. "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting", Trump wrote in a published letter to Kim Jong Un. Beijing backs the North's proposal for a phased and synchronized denuclearization process, while the United States insists on a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later. South Korean media speculated that Pompeo could make a third trip to Pyongyang after Kim Yong Chol's US trip. There will be no similar media events at the village until after June 12, the possible date of the summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to the command.
A North Korean delegation led by another of Kim Jong Un's trusted aides, Kim Chang Son, flew to Singapore on Monday night for talks with USA officials to discuss logistical issues for the summit.
USA and South Korean officials haven't confirmed the details of the pre-summit negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang at the Korean village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border inside the Demilitarized Zone. It includes senior officials with the National Security Council and the Pentagon.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's dispatch of a top lieutenant to the United States suggests that preparations for a meeting between him and President Donald Trump are in the final stages.
North Korean watchers here say that North Korea and the U.S. seem to have reached a broad agreement on the timeline and road map for North Korea's denuclearization - North Korea takes steps to abandon its nuclear weapons program in a short, compressed period of time in return for the United States taking measures to guarantee the Kim Jong-un regime's survival. "Depending on its outcome, the president could join President Trump and Chairman Kim in Singapore".
Kim Yong Chol arrives at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 25, 2018.
Pompeo's spokeswoman said it would be the third meeting between Pompeo - who opened contacts with the isolated Pyongyang regime when he was still Central Intelligence Agency director - and General Kim.
"Excessive worries receded as efforts resumed for a summit between the USA and North Korea", Okasan Online Securities strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a commentary, which added that uncertainty remains.
The talks are expected to continue this week. The North hasn't openly repeated those same demands after Kim's sudden outreach to Seoul and Washington.
North Korea, which refers to its nuclear weapons program as its "treasured sword" keeping the country safe, has repeatedly said it is not interested in unilateral disarmament. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War.
He now serves as head of the United Front Department, the arm of the ruling Workers' Party that handles relations with South Korea.
Kim is believed to be behind the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship known as the Cheonan in 2010 that ultimately killed 46 sailors. He was linked by U.S intelligence to a devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014.
He holds a number of senior positions within North Korea's communist hierarchy.
Kim Yong Chol, a four-star general who has been at the forefront of North Korea's diplomatic outreach, landed at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, according to television footage from the airport.