Japan's foreign minister mulls visit to Singapore ahead of Trump-Kim summit

Japan's foreign minister mulls visit to Singapore ahead of Trump-Kim summit

Japan's foreign minister mulls visit to Singapore ahead of Trump-Kim summit

A top North Korean official arrived in the US on Wednesday for the highest-level talks between the two countries on American soil in 18 years, as the Trump administration works to prepare for a summit in Singapore with the isolated regime less than two weeks from now.

Pyongyang's state-run KCNA news agency said Kim "expressed his fixed will" to meet Trump, adding South and North Korea would hold another round of "high-level" talks on June 1.

The upcoming meeting heightens expectations for an unprecedented summit between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore in June.

Kim Yong-chol - a vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea who has the rank of general - is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States in nearly two decades.

A key issue remains what exactly Trump and Kim could agree to during the summit, still scheduled for June 12.

Pompeo returns to Washington on Thursday.

The two countries do not have a diplomatic relationship and North Korea only has a mission in NY for its delegation to the UN.

US President Donald Trump has a fondness for burgers while Kim Jong-un's father is credited by North Koreans as inventing the fast food.

The presidential office is pushing to hold a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in July, it said Wednesday.

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Pompeo later said the USA side had heard only "dial tones" when they tried to contact North Korean counterparts to make preparations.

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the officials' "conversation is going to be focused on denuclearization of the peninsula as well as the summit that will take place in Singapore".

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as United States ambitions to overthrow its leadership and unite the Korean Peninsula.

Trump announced that Kim Yong-chol was coming to NY for talks with Pompeo in a tweet on Tuesday in which he said he had a "great team" working on the summit. Trump had mused that Kim's "attitude" had changed after the North Korean leader's surprise visit to China two weeks ago, suggesting China was pushing Kim away from the table.

The presidential office flatly denied the report, saying the official's trip to Singapore "has nothing to do with the North Korea-US summit or a South Korea-North Korea-US summit".

Kim Yong-chol, a 73-year-old general described as the ultimate regime insider, is the highest North Korean official to visit the United States in nearly 20 years.

Meanwhile, President Trump will also meet Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington on June 7.

Hitoshi Tanaka, a former deputy foreign affairs minister, has also urged the U.S. to understand the importance of trust in Asian cultures as it pushes for a deal to remove Pyongyang's nuclear weapons.

China has repeatedly said it is fully enforcing United Nations sanctions against North Korea and it would punish any Chinese company breaking them.

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