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Meeting paves way for Kim-Trump summit

New York, Thursday

The right-hand man to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York to discuss a historic summit.

Gen Kim Yong-chol dined with Pompeo after flying in from China, and the two are due to meet again today. He is the most senior North Korean to visit the US in nearly 20 years.

US President Donald Trump cancelled the June 12 summit, but both sides have since made fresh efforts to hold it as planned.

Scheduled to happen in Singapore, the historic meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un would be the first between sitting US and North Korean leaders.

On Wednesday evening, Pompeo and Gen Kim arrived separately at a building close to the UN headquarters.

Emerging later, Pompeo tweeted: “Good working dinner with Kim Yong Chol in New York tonight. Steak, corn, and cheese on the menu.” Ahead of the meeting, Pompeo had set out the US position.

North Korea has strongly objected to statements by Trump administration members comparing North Korean denuclearisation to Libya’s.

Former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi gave up his nuclear programme only for him to be killed by Western-backed rebels a few years later.

North Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui is continuing to meet Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to South Korea, at Panmunjom on the border between the two Koreas.

These talks have been continuing since Sunday with some long breaks. The two diplomats have faced one another before during previous denuclearisation negotiations.

In Singapore itself, a US team led by White House official Joe Hagin is thought to be meeting Kim Chang-son, the de facto chief of staff to the North Korean leader, to talk about logistics.

And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Pyongyang for talks with Kim, the first time the North Korean leader has met a senior Russian official. He extended an invitation to Kim to visit Moscow.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed the US and North Korean leaders still planned to meet next month.  — BBC

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