The U.S. secretary of state will meet with a top North Korean official later this week to discuss a possible meeting between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.
The planned visit is the latest in a group of diplomatic moves among countries with ties to the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with the vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling party, Kim Yong Chol. Kim is also a former intelligence chief for the North. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports that Kim is expected to travel to New York City on Wednesday.
The development followed President Donald Trump’s tweet early Tuesday. The president noted Kim Yong Chol’s visit, calling it a “solid response” to his letter. Trump was referring to a letter he sent last week to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un cancelling a planned meeting in Singapore on June 12. The meeting had been scheduled to permit Trump and Kim to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
On, off, on?
After Trump canceled the meeting, North Korean state media have reported on Kim’s “fixed will” that the summit with Trump go forward. And now, the Trump administration says preparations for the summit are continuing.
The White House press secretary said officials from both sides held talks Sunday in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “They plan to have additional meetings this week” at the border area of Panmunjom.
She added that the “U.S. continues to actively prepare” for the Trump-Kim summit.
Trump tweeted, “We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more.”
The Trump administration said that U.S. officials traveled to Singapore on Sunday to plan for the previously planned leaders meeting.
South Korean leader to meet with Trump and Kim?
The government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in also may be seeking to meet with the U.S. president and North Korean leader in Singapore. A government official in Seoul raised the possibility on Monday.
The suggestion follows a surprise meeting between the South Korean president and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Moon said Kim is still committed to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea requested the meeting between Kim and Moon after the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit.
Developments after a weekend of diplomacy
In another development, Trump plans to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders spoke by telephone on Monday.
In a statement, the administration said the two leaders share the desire to seek the “complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and ballistic missile programs.”
U.S. spokeswoman Sanders said Trump will meet with Abe at the White House on June 7.
Both leaders are to attend the Group of Seven Economic meeting in Canada on June 8 and 9.
On Saturday, Abe traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders discussed four islands in the Pacific that Russia occupies but are claimed by Japan.
The dispute over the islands has prevented Japan and Russia from formally signing a peace treaty ending World War II.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Steve Herman reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
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Words in This Story
denuclearization - v. to remove nuclear weapons from a country or place
demilitarized zone –n. an area where soldiers and weapons are banned
dismantlement –n. the process of taking something apart in an orderly way
sanction - n. a measure designed to punish a country for failure to obey international laws or rules