Kim Jong Un says North's will for denuclearization 'unchanged'

Sergei Lavrov

After the North's combative statements, there was debate inside the Trump administration about whether it marked a real turn to belligerence or a feint to see how far Kim Jong-un could push the USA in the lead-up to the talks. Yet he also said at his news conference that hard work remains including hurdles that may appear to be insurmountable as negotiations progress on the US demand for North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

"General Kim spent most of the meal berating me about American aggression and what bad people we were", Clapper said, according to his office at the time.

Kim Yong Chol was greeted Friday by White House chief of staff John Kelly, who brought him inside the White House to meet President Donald Trump.

At a time when the USA and North Korean leaders are preparing for a diplomatic summit, for the first time in history, one of the major concerns for the U.S. is the possibility of North Korea hiding "secret things". "The meetings have been very positive".

"A letter is going to be delivered to me from Kim Jong Un", Trump told press Thursday morning.

Mr Trump cancelled the 12 June summit, but both sides agreed to move forward.

Kim Yong Chol, considered the right-hand man of leader Kim Jong Un, was the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years.

North Korea conducted a series of missile tests and nuclear detonations a year ago, which led to the imposition of additional United Nations Security Council resolutions meant to isolate the country economically. Kim has already had two meetings each with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The negotiations in NY, in conjunction with earlier meetings in Singapore and at the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, Pompeo said, were "putting President Trump and Kim Jong-un in a place where we think there could be real progress made".

He reiterated President Trump's promise of security and prosperity for North Korea if it ends its nuclear program.

Privately, there is increasing acknowledgment in the administration that any disarmament will not be immediate but could take years, and will require USA concessions along the way - a step-by-step process that some senior White House aides have previously rejected, citing North Korea's history of reneging on its promises.

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"We've had lots of conversations around that", he said.

"If Kim Jong Un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for North Korea", he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference, Thursday, May 31, 2018, in NY.

"Delivering the letter to the president", the official added, "if there is such a letter, is something that Kim Yong-chol came to the United States prepared to do, and we'll have to see".

He admitted that he still could not confirm whether the summit will go ahead.

With the scheduled June 12 summit approaching, Kim's letter has put the ball back in Trump's court.

The United States, in return for North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons, could potentially loosen sanctions, leading to possible food and other aid to impoverished North Korea and improved ties with South Korea.

He also expressed Moscow's support for an agreement Mr Kim reached with South Korea at a summit last month that focused on measures to ease hostilities and increase exchanges between the two Koreas.

"We're doing very well with North Korea", Trump said in brief remarks to reporters Thursday.

Russian Federation is the latest major nation to reach out to North Korea since Trump accepted Kim's proposal for a summit.

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