Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator in denuclearization talks with the U.S., is headed to Washington, where he is expected to arrive by the weekend at the latest, signaling that the two countries may be nearing an agreement to hold a second summit between their leaders.
According to two sources with knowledge of the talks, the top negotiator who has served as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s counterpart in nuclear talks with the United States is expected to meet with Pompeo and U.S. special representative to North Korea Steve Biegun on Friday.
It remains unclear for now if he will also visit the White House, although the sources said he is expected to. The possible dates for the meetings between Kim Yong Chol and top U.S. officials have not yet been confirmed by the North Korean side, CNN informs. For now, no firm details about the expected nuclear talks have been announced.
“A lot of positive things are happening. He (Trump) and Chairman Kim have established a good relationship, and conversations between the United States and North Korea continue,” a White House spokesperson said, adding that they were working to achieve the end goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“…the President looks forward to meeting Chairman Kim again at their second summit at a place and time yet to be determined,” the spokesperson added.
The final location and date of the second summit are unknown and will likely be discussed during the meeting in Washington.
The last time North Korea’s top negotiator was in the United States was in June when he delivered a letter to President Donald Trump from the North Korean leader at a time when plans for their first summit were at a stalemate. During their hours-long meetings, Kim Yong Chol managed to get the first U.S.-North Korea summit back on track.
Experts believe that the trip Kim is to make to the U.S. now will serve the same purpose.
“These meetings should be seen for what they are, a testing out of each other’s positions on denuclearization to see if a summit is viable for both sides — nothing more, nothing less,” said Harry J. Kazianis, the director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest.