19 January, 2019
Kim Yong-chol, considered the right-hand man of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is traveling to Washington to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Still, even after the Singapore summit, the first between USA and North Korean leaders, there has been little real progress in nuclear disarmament.
Pompeo had planned to meet his North Korean counterpart to discuss the second summit of November 2018, however, the meeting was postponed. Trump and Kim Jong Un are to meet near the end of February at a place to be announced at a later day, said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Broader global diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons hasn't achieved a breakthrough since Kim's summit with Trump in Singapore last June.
The Ministry of National Defense has removed its definition of North Korea as the "main enemy" in its latest defense white paper, reflecting of the ongoing inter-Korean reconciliation.
It came seven months after he declared after his first summit with leader Kim Jong-Un that the North Korean threat had been eliminated.
Kim and Trump met for a historic summit in Singapore in June, but have since struggled to make progress towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Personnel exchanges between the two Koreas have increased sharply since North Korea abruptly began talks early past year with a vague promise of denuclearization.
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"While there has been a yearlong pause in North Korean missile testing, Pyongyang's retention of its missile arsenal capable of striking at United States forces in Asia and even threatening the USA homeland indicates that its going to take more than just missile defense to change the equation with the Kim regime", said Behnam Taleblu of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
There has been no indication of any narrowing of differences over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States or over Pyongyang's demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.
For Trump, the made-for-television summitry with the young and elusive North Korean leader also offers a welcome respite from news at home of the shutdown and the continuing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
A source familiar with the matter said Kim will travel to Vietnam for an official state visit after the February 4-8 Lunar New Year.
South Korea's largest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported Wednesday that the paintings were purchased from Pyongyang's Mansudae art studio, which is on a United Nations sanctions blacklist. -North Korea summit, according to a person familiar with the matter. Sweden's TT news agency said US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom also were attending.
In the long run, non-proliferation analysts say, Mr Kim's strategy appears to be quietly fortifying his arsenal while creating the diplomatic climate necessary for North Korea to be tolerated as a nuclear state, such as India or Israel.
It's unclear if he will visit the White House, but the sources say that is the expectation from the North Koreans and the USA side is preparing for the possibility.
"We're moving forward in these conversations, lots of ideas about how we might continue to decrease the risk to the American people", Pompeo said Friday in an interview with Fox News.