Trump confirms senior North Korean official is heading to United States for talks

Kim Yong Chol vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee at the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 25 2018

Significant differences, however, remain - especially over the USA and North Korean definition of "complete denuclearization".

USA officials have talked about a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later.

"I think the two leaders will sit down and they're going to have a great time, because really they have the same personality", he said on Sunday.

Besides worrying about missiles, Abe has also repeatedly asked Trump to raise the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea four decades ago.

Kim Yong Chol was directly sanctioned by the Treasury Department for his involvement in North Korea's nuclear program and illicit activities while he served as director of intelligence, so the United States would have had to grant a waiver to allow him to enter the country.

Kim Yong Chol - seen here standing behind South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Ivanka Trump during the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, is on his way to New York City.

The two diplomats have crossed paths several times in the past, especially during the six-party negotiation process.

General Kim is a deeply controversial figure in South Korea, where he is blamed for masterminding the 2010 sinking of the navy corvette the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, an attack for which North Korea denies responsibility.

On May 24, Trump sent a letter to Kim Jong Un announcing that he was cancelling the historic meeting because of the harsh rhetoric coming from North Korean officials.

The team was being led by Sung Kim, a former USA ambassador to South Korea and onetime nuclear negotiator with the North, who had been called in from his posting as envoy to the Philippines to lead the meetings.

South Korean media broadcast footage of USA embassy vehicles, including one carrying Sung Kim, leaving a Seoul hotel on Tuesday but there were no details on whether the convoy was heading back to the DMZ.

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Kim Chang-son, Kim's de facto chief of staff, flew to Singapore via Beijing on Monday night, the report by public broadcaster NHK said.

"Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to NY".

South Korean President Moon Jae-In could also be going to Singapore next month for a three-way summit with his USA and North Korean counterparts, a government official in Seoul said Monday.

The issue is central in determining whether the US-North Korea meeting succeeds, and whether Moon is an effective facilitator, said Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean national security adviser and nuclear negotiator with the North.

Trump pulled out of the meeting Kim Jong Un last week, but then said a day later that it could get back on track.

Kim Yong Chol would become the highest-ranking official from the isolated nation to visit the USA since 2000, when Pyongyang sent Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok to meet then-President Bill Clinton.

The Korea Herald yesterday quoted a top South Korean official as saying that this would be the crux in any deal.

The U.S. has called for "complete, verifiable and irreversible" dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

The summit with Kim Jong Un and Trump had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that she has no information on Kim Yong-chol's visit.

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