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Pompeo, North Korea Vice Chairman hold talks in US

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Washington, May 31 : US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol have held talks in New York, ahead of a potential historic summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.

The meeting between North Korea’s ex-spy chief with America’s top diplomat came amid efforts to revive the prospects of the summit between Trump and Kim.

Kim Yong Chol is the most senior North Korean official to visit the US in 18 years.

Pompeo said in a tweet: “Good working dinner with Kim Yong Chol in New York tonight. Steak, corn, and cheese on the menu”.

The meeting was said to have lasted around 90 minutes.

The high-ranking North Korean official, who will meet Pompeo again on Thursday, arrived at New York from Beijing.

“Pompeo has arrived in New York for meetings with North Korea Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol as we continue to actively prepare for Trump’s potential summit with North Korean Chairman Kim in Singapore and emphasise our commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration is preparing and expects the summit to take place on June 12 in Singapore.

“And we’ll be ready, if it does, on June 12. And if it’s not, then we’ll be ready if it takes place on July 12,” she told reporters at her daily news conference.

The United States, she said, is continuing to prepare for the meeting between the President and the North Korean leader.

Trump last week called off the summit after North Korea expressed anger at comments by American officials. The President, however, later said that he was reconsidering his decision.

“The advance team, led by Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, met with the North Korean team in Singapore, and again expect to do so tomorrow. We want to thank our strategic partner in Singapore, who’s been incredibly generous in agreeing to host the summit. And the President is very appreciative of Prime Minister Lee (Hsien Loong) for all of their efforts,” Sanders said.

At the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the US delegation, led by Ambassador Sung Kim, met with North Korean officials as well, she said.

“Their talks will continue. So far, the readout from these meetings has been positive, and we’ll continue to move forward in them,” the White House press secretary said.

The conversation, she said, is going to be focused on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

“That’s what these ongoing conversations taking place now will be centred on, as well as the summit that would take place in Singapore. As long as that is part of the discussion, we’re going to continue to shoot for June 12 and expect to do that,” Sanders said.

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