Top North Korean official meets Trump at White House

Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, On Rare Visit To North Korea, Invites Kim To Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and high-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong Chol enter a second day of meetings in NY on Thursday as they try to settle nuclear weapons disagreements and set the stage for an historic summit between their leaders.

Trump spoke to reporters after his White House meeting with North Korea's former spy chief and top official Kim Yong Chol.

"Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship in which it could be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste", Mr Pomeo said.

Mr Trump cancelled the 12 June summit last week, but both sides agreed to move forward.

This Reuters photo shows Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, arriving at his hotel in NY on May 30, 2018.

"If it happens, we'll certainly be ready", White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the Singapore summit.

The president announced the historic Singapore meeting would go ahead just a week after he canceled it, following an hour-long meeting with Kim's right-hand man Kim Yong Chol in the oval office.

Pompeo, the former Central Intelligence Agency chief who has travelled to North Korea and met with Kim Jong-un twice in the past two months, said he believed the country's leaders are "contemplating a path forward where they can make a strategic shift, one that their country has not been prepared to make before". Andrew Kim, a top expert on North Korea at the C.I.A., and Mark Lambert, a senior State Department official, joined Mr. Pompeo in the meeting.

North Korea has rejected previous USA calls for its unilateral nuclear disarmament and argued instead for a "phased" approach to denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula, which in the past has also meant removal of the US nuclear umbrella protecting South Korea and Japan.

"Good working dinner with Kim Yong Chol in NY tonight", Pompeo tweeted after the dinner, along with photos of them shaking hands and clinking glasses over the table. The US is willing to provide the North Koreans security guarantees and help them achieve economic prosperity if they denuclearise, said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

There were promises of peace and cooperation and even talk of a summit. That from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Hopefully we will have a meeting on the 12th.

Mr Trump made the announcement after talks with a senior North Korean envoy at the White House.

What did Trump say today? "It is very important to them".

He said a number of summits might be required.

Kim Yong-chul arrived at the White House Friday afternoon after two days of talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, bearing a letter for Mr. Trump from Mr. Kim.

"I think you'll have a very positive result in the end - not from one meeting", Mr. Trump said. "I look forward to the day when I can take the sanctions off of North Korea", Trump said. By the next day, he was signaling the event could be back on after a conciliatory response from North Korea. Speaking to journalists after the North Koreans departed, Trump initially said the letter was "very nice" and "very interesting", but minutes later said he had not read the letter yet and didn't open it in the meeting, joking that he could be in for "a big surprise".

Trump further cautioned: "We'll see where it leads".

"I told them, take your time".

New Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later added that the USA had struggled to pin down North Korea on the planned logistics of the meeting.

It was not immediately clear who accompanied Kim Yong Chol on the North Korean side.

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