High-ranking North Korean emissary heads to NYC

The highest-ranking North Korean emissary to meet with a United States official in nearly two decades was heading to New York City on Wednesday for a confab with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a landmark summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un hangs in the balance.

Kim Yong Chol, a top aide to Kim and the regime’s former spy chief, left Beijing on Wednesday with his five-member entourage heading for New York, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Pompeo is expected to meet with Trump at the White House on Wednesday afternoon and then head north to rendezvous with Kim Yong Chol to discuss the June 12 summit in Singapore, the State Department said. Pompeo returns to Washington on Thursday.

The State Department would not release any details on the meeting or where it would happen.

But a federal source said the two would get together at the United Nations or a UN facility in the city.

The two countries do not have a diplomatic relationship and North Korea only has a mission in New York for its delegation to the UN.

Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, could remain in touch with Pyongyang through the mission while on the ground in the Big Apple.

It will be the third meeting between Pompeo, who headed the CIA before becoming secretary of state, and Kim Yong Chol since April.

He helped coordinate Pompeo’s two meetings in Pyongyang with the Korean leader in April and earlier this month.

Kim Yong Chol would be the most senior North Korean emissary to meet with a top US official since Vice Chairman Jo Myong-rok’s 2000 White House visit with President Bill Clinton.

He invited Clinton to North Korea, but the visit never happened.

There has been a flurry of diplomatic maneuvering surrounding next month’s meeting between Kim and Trump over the past several weeks.

The president, in a letter to the Hermit Kingdom last Thursday, canceled the meeting after a North Korean official called Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy.”

The White House on Tuesday said the administration continues to “actively prepare” for the Singapore summit.

US delegations are in North Korea and Singapore working out details of the talks with officials from Kim’s government.

Trump will also host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on June 7 to discuss the Singapore meeting with Kim.

Russia on Wednesday also announced that its foreign minister would be in North Korea on Thursday for talks.

Sergei Lavrov will meet with the regime’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, to get the lay of the land before the summit between Trump and Kim.

“It will be very useful for me to understand how our North Korean neighbors relate to all issues (concerning the situation the Korean peninsula),” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS, Reuters reported.

With Post wires

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