Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down for a steak dinner with an infamous North Korean official as part of a diplomatic frenzy dedicated to resurrecting the cancelled summit between Donald trump and Kim Jong Un.
Pompeo has scheduled a news conference on Thursday, at the end of his meetings with Kim.
But within 24 hours he reversed course, saying it could still go ahead after productive talks were held with North Korean officials.
On Wednesday, Kim Yong Chol, Kim's infamous right-hand man and a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party, met with Pompeo after he arrived at JFK International Airport in NY.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol for dinner in Manhattan, New York. "That is how you do these things". On Saturday, both Koreas said they supported a summit with the US.
Kim flew from Pyongyang to Beijing Tuesday with North Korean officials including Choe Kang-il, acting director general for North American affairs in its Foreign Ministry, and Kim Song-hye, a senior official from the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party.
Meanwhile, the outgoing head of U.S. pacific command, who is Mr Trump's pick to be the ambassador to South Korea, said on Wednesday that North Korea remained America's most imminent threat.More news: Officials blasted for missed call that resulted in key Golden Knights goal
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"Lavrov's meeting with Kim Jong Un was the first by a senior Russian official since the North Korean leader came to power in 2011", Lucian says, adding that the Kremlin has traditionally had close ties to leaders in Pyongyang.
North Korea's flurry of diplomatic activity following a torrid run in nuclear weapons and missile tests in 2017 suggests that Kim Jong Un is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the worldwide legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide. He, along with Kim Jong-un's younger sister Kim Yo-jong, are widely seen as the two key advisers to the head of state.
As unification minister, Cho has also been involved in talks with the North on the possibility of replacing the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 with a peace treaty.
"The North Korean decision-makers largely concentrate on the countries that are especially important, which either constitute a potential or actual military threat like the United States and South Korea, or those that can be seen as a possible source of economic assistance and investment - like China and South Korea", Lankov said.
"If it happens, we'll certainly be ready", White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of plans for the summit.
With North Korea customarily preferring its diplomatic engagement to take place well behind closed doors, little information is leaking out.
Mr Lavrov is paying his first visit to North Korea since April 2009 and is due to hold talks with Ri Yong-ho, his local counterpart, over bilateral relations and ongoing developments on the Korean Peninsula.
USA and North Korean officials have continued to meet for pre-summit negotiations in Singapore, while the U.S. invited Kim Yong Chol to a meeting on American soil, the type of which has not taken place for decades. "I think we're looking for something that has never been done before". Trump had mused that Kim's "attitude" had changed after the North Korean leader's surprise visit to China two weeks ago, suggesting China was pushing Kim away from the table.