It looks like the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un may be a go after all. In a tweet today, Trump confirmed that Kim Yong-chol, a high-level official from North Korea, is traveling to New York. The White House subsequently indicated that he will meet there with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In the same tweet, Trump also explained that he has a great team in place gearing up for the summit. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has noted that an advance team has been dispatched to Singapore to work out the logistics for the important sit-down.
Last Thursday, the president canceled the June 12 meeting in a letter sent to the North Korea leader because of what he said was “tremendous anger and open hostility” contained in a NOK statement but left the door open for further dialogue. He also thanked Kim for the release of three American hostages who Trump met personally as they arrived home at Andrews Air Force Base on May 10.
In subsequent comments to the media, Trump, who previously nicknamed the North Korean leader as “little rocket man” to the consternation of blue-check Twitter, expressed optimism the summit could still go forward on June 12 or sometime shortly thereafter.
Walking away from the meeting may have been an initial negotiating strategy from the author of the best-seller The Art of the Deal, however. The talks aim to result in a denuclearized Korean peninsula and possibly ultimately to the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea, which are separated by the famous or infamous demilitarized zone (DMZ).
During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly slammed the Obama administration on the Iran nuclear deal for an unwillingness to walk away from the table when Tehran’s demands became too excessive. Trump formally withdrew from the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, on May 8.
Insofar as Korea is concerned, Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon seem to have developed a strong rapport, which seems to bode well for the possibility of a deal.
“Earlier on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he and North Korea’s Kim had agreed during a surprise meeting on Saturday that the North Korea-U.S. summit must be held,” Reuters reported.
Kim Yong-chol, a four-star general in the North Korean military and a former intelligence official who is allegedly implicated in an attack on a South Korean ship that killed nearly 50 sailors in 2010, is due to arrive at JFK Airport on Wednesday afternoon after a stopover in Beijing, the Washington Post reported. He is also a vice chair of the communist party that runs North Korea and serves as one of the Kim Jong-un’s key advisers. Along with Kim Jong-un’s sister, he headed the North Korea delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“[Kim Yong-chol] will be the highest-ranking North Korean to visit the United States since Gen. Jo Myong Rok went to the White House to see President Bill Clinton in 2000, part of a denuclearization effort that went nowhere…As the rapprochement with the United States has picked up pace, Kim Yong-chol appears to have taken on a broader remit to deal with the Trump administration.”
Kim Yong Chol reportedly orchestrated the two meetings between his boss and Pompeo earlier this year.
Trump previously revealed on Twitter that his team of negotiators had already arrived in North Korea, apparently led by Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines who has prior experience negotiating with North Korea.
If a deal with North Korea can be reached, many political observers believe that Donald Trump could be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize.