Trump confirms senior North Korean official en route to US

The vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, General Kim Yong-chol

US President Donald Trump has confirmed that a senior North Korean official is en route to New York as part of preparations for the June 12 summit between him and Kim Jong-un.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, President Trump said meetings are underway concerning the historic summit and added that there was “solid response” to his letter last week withdrawing from the meeting.

“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,” he tweeted. “Solid response to my letter, thank you!”

The vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, General Kim Yong-chol, landed at Beijing airport on Tuesday and will continue on to New York on Wednesday after talks with Chinese officials, Reuters reported, citing South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The White House also said that a "pre-advance" team would meet North Koreans in Singapore.

President Trump’s policy on North Korea, like so much of his presidency, has been shrouded in secrecy and confusion.

One day he cancels the summit with Kim and the next day he says productive talks are underway to prepare for the meeting.

On Sunday, Trump praised North Korea’s “brilliant potential” and said his team arrived in North Korea to arrange for his possible meeting with Kim.

“Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong-un and myself. I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong-un agrees with me on this. It will happen!” Trump tweeted. 

The summit announcement came after several months of unprecedented cordial diplomacy between South and North Koreas, which had been adversaries for decades.

The United States, which has substantial presence in South Korea, was on a war footing with the North over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

The development resurrected hopes that Trump and Kim could soon meet to try to find a solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula that has escalated over the past year.

North Korea dismantled its sole known nuclear test site on Thursday in an array of explosions. The Punggye-ri test facility has been the staging ground for all six of the North’s nuclear tests, including its latest and by far most powerful one in September last year, which Pyongyang claimed was a hydrogen bomb.

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