WASHINGTON - The U.S. â€ścontinues to actively prepareâ€ť for an â€śexpected summitâ€ť between President Donald Trump and North Koreaâ€™s Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the White House said, as diplomatic efforts are underway on two continents to prepare for the historic meeting.
Trump confirmed Tuesday that a top North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol, is headed to New York for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It marks the latest sign that prospects for the summit are growing, just days after it was ostensibly called off by Trump, as teams of U.S. officials have arrived at the Korean demilitarized zone and in Singapore to prepare for the meeting.
The conference had been scheduled for June 12 in the island nation, but Trump announced last week that he had decided to â€śterminateâ€ť the meeting following a provocative statement from the North and its decision to skip planning talks and ignore preparatory phone calls. White House officials have characterized the letter from the president to Kim as a negotiating tactic, designed to bring the North back to the table.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that since the letter, â€śthe North Koreans have been engaging,â€ť with the U.S.
â€śThe United States continues to actively prepare for President Trumpâ€™s expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore,â€ť she said in a statement Tuesday.
South Korean media had reported earlier that Kim Yong Cholâ€™s name was on the passenger list for a fight Wednesday from Beijing to New York. Kim was seen in the Beijing airport on Tuesday by Associated Press Television. Sanders said he would meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York later this week.
â€śWe have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea,â€ť Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. â€śMeetings 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!â€ť
Kim Yong Chol is a former military intelligence chief and now a vice chairman of the North Korean ruling partyâ€™s central committee. He will be the highest-level North Korean official to travel to the United States since 2000.