White House says it expects Trump-Kim summit to happen as planned as top North Korea official lands in US for talks
Administration is still aiming for June 12 summit as a top North Korean official arrives in New York.
The White House has said it expects a historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to take place as planned, as a senior North Korea official landed in New York for talks aimed at ensuring its success
“We’re continuing to prepare for the meeting between the president and the North Korean leader”, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. The summit still hangs in the balance, with Mr Trump having issued a letter last week pulling out of the summit before the latest flurry of diplomacy aimed at salvaging the talks.
“We are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12, and we will be ready if it does on June 12, and if not, then we will be ready if it takes place on July 12”, Ms Sanders said.
Those preparations include secretary of state Mike Pompeo meeting a top North Korean official in New York this week. Mr Pompeo’s meeting will be focused on denuclearising the Korean peninsula, Ms Sanders said.
North Korean official Kim Yong Chol touched down in New York, visiting Mr Pompeo on his home turf after the secretary of state paid a secretive visit to Pyongyang earlier this year while serving as CIA director. The sole diplomatic presence for North Korea in the US is at the United Nations in New York, which may make it easier to communicate with officials
After Mr Trump abruptly calling off the summit last week and lambasted North Korea for displaying “tremendous anger and open hostility” towards the US, the White House has been striving to reinstate the meeting, including by dispatching an array of officials to Asia.
A delegation of US diplomatic officials travelled to meet with North Korean counterparts in the demilitarised zone separating the north from South Korea, and a team headed to Singapore to meet with North Korean officials and continue laying the groundwork for a potential meeting there.
One of those meetings in Singapore was said to have taken place on Wednesday, aimed at dealing with the logistics.
In announcing the various diplomatic moves, the White House said earlier this week that North Korea had “been engaging” since Mr Trump’s open letter nixing the meeting.
“So far the readout from these meetings has been positive”, Ms Sanders told reporters.