Top N. Korean in Washington to prepare new Trump summit

WASHINGTON: A top North Korean general was paying a rare visit yesterday to Washington, where he is expected to meet President Donald Trump to finalise a new summit aimed at denuclearisation and easing decades of hostility.

Kim Yong Chol, a right-hand man to leader Kim Jong Un, is the first North Korean dignitary in nearly two decades known to have spent the night in the US capital, little more than a year after Trump was threatening to wipe the totalitarian state off the map.

Under light snow, Kim and his entourage were seen exiting a motorcade and without comment entering a fashionable hotel in the lively Dupont Circle neighbourhood, where he is expected to meet Friday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An American source, who could not be identified as the schedule has not been announced, said Pompeo would invite Kim to an early lunch before the two likely head together to the White House, a short drive away.

Neither side has publicly announced the visit, with the United States treading cautiously after Kim Yong Chol abruptly cancelled his last planned talks with Pompeo which were set for early November in New York.

But Trump has voiced optimism after receiving what he called a warm New Year’s letter from Kim Jong Un and has opined that the two leaders are “in love.”

Trump has repeatedly voiced eagerness to see Kim Jong Un again after their landmark June summit in Singapore, the first meeting ever between sitting leaders from the two countries that never formally ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Tensions began to abate a year ago with the encouragement of South Korea’s dovish government. Trump has repeatedly hailed his diplomacy as a triumph, recently saying there would have been “a nice big fat war in Asia” if it were not for him.- AFP