North Korea’s chief negotiator in US-North Korea talks, Kim Yong-chol, is expected to deliver a letter to US President Donald Trump during his visit to Washington this weekend, according to media reports Thursday.
Kim, vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, is expected to arrive in the US capital on Thursday. He will meet Trump at the White House, following a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday.
The senior official arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday for United Airlines flight UA808 bound for Washington.
Details of a second summit between the leaders of North Korea and the US are likely to be discussed during the meetings.
Kim appears to be repeating steps he took leading to the historic North Korean-US summit in Singapore in June last year. At the time, he had also delivered a letter while holding meetings with Trump and Pompeo.
Kim and Pompeo had planned a meeting in Washington last November, but North Korea called it off for reasons unknown.
The written message from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un comes about a week after Trump sent him a letter, which was flown to Pyongyang and delivered by hand Saturday.
Expectations that US-North Korea negotiations will gain traction have been rising, as the two leaders have exchanged opinions via the letters. On Jan. 3, Trump said he had received a “great letter” from Kim and would probably meet him again in the not-too-distant future.
During the Singapore summit, the two leaders agreed to work toward “complete denuclearization,” but the pace of negotiations has slowed due to disagreement over the meaning of their vague declaration.
North Korea has called for the US to lift sanctions, as it has not conducted missile tests in roughly a year, while Washington demands Pyongyang take more concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons.
As the second US-North Korea summit looms, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa said Thursday that Seoul is in talks with the US over corresponding measures for North Korea when it takes steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons. The corresponding measures would be a combination of various incentives and may include the formalization of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, humanitarian assistance and the establishment of a communication channel with the US.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese resort city of Danang appears to be the most likely contender to host the summit between Kim and Trump, which is expected to take place in March or April, according to the Washington Post.