Diplomacy heats up before summit, with trips by USA, N. Korea

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In a tweet, Trump confirmed that Kim was heading for the United States.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, citing an unnamed source, also on Tuesday reported that a separate U.S. He and Kim Jong Un's sister were the only North Korean officials to attend the historic inter-Korean summit of leaders in April.

US President Donald Trump later confirmed in a Twitter post that Kim was on his way to NY to discuss the summit, describing Kim's trip as "solid response to my letter".

Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, watches the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 25, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. But in reality, as the onetime head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North's intelligence agency, he is the regime's spy chief and a top adviser to the supreme leader. Kim is blacklisted by both the United States and South Korea.

He has also faced criticism for his alleged role in a series of North Korean provocations, including the 2010 sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors.

If Trump and Kim Jong Un do end up meeting, the president hopes to convince the North Korean leader to agree to the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Should the reports of working-level talks be officially confirmed, Kim will be the most high-ranking North Korean official to visit the USA and hold talks with government officials since the late Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok's meeting with then-President Bill Clinton in 2000.

One expert told NK News that Kim's visit to the USA would allow President Trump to hear first-hand from a senior DPRK official.

Separately, an advance team headed by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin is in Singapore making logistical plans for the summit, should it go ahead.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that since the letter, "the North Koreans have been engaging", with the U.S.

As well as Kim Yong-chol's visit, Kim Jong-un has also sent his de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, to Singapore via Beijing.

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South Korea's Defence Ministry said it did not have plans to change exercise schedules with the US military.

"Kim's official counterpart is Pompeo but he may also push for meetings with (National Security Advisor John) Bolton and even Trump if possible", Chung told AFP.

On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said American and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom and the White House's Sanders said a U.S. delegation was meeting with a North Korean delegation in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas.

The US and North Korea are seeking common ground on the steps it would take for Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons.

"He comes here with the writ of the president of North Korea".

Meanwhile, a team of American diplomats are holding preparatory discussions with North Korean officials at the DMZ.

Kim Yong Chol would be the most senior North Korean official to visit the USA in 18 years.

"We agreed to meet before the U.S".

The US, in contrast, has reportedly made a decision to hold off new sanctions against the North indefinitely. If the summit indeed occurs - as of now, I see no reason that it won't - it will be the first time a sitting USA president meets with the leader of North Korea. But it's not known what else he'll do while in the U.S.

Of the countries seeking to influence negotiations with North Korea, Japan has remained the most hard-line, consistently calling for complete and immediate denuclearisation as well as the removal of all missiles and biological weapons.

Abe and Trump spoke by telephone a day after American and North Korean officials met at a border truce village to prepare for the summit.