Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean ruling party official and a close aide to leader Kim Jong Un, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, an informed source in the Chinese capital said, while a diplomatic source said he is heading to the United States to help prepare for an envisioned U.S.-North Korean summit.
Among the North Korean officials who also arrived in Beijing from Pyongyang on Tuesday by plane was Choe Kang Il, deputy director general for North American affairs at the Foreign Ministry. The diplomatic source said they may travel to New York for pre-summit talks.
(Kim Yong Chol in Seoul in February 2018)
Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and head of its department in charge of relations with South Korea, held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang earlier this month.
Kim Yong Chol is believed to be leading arrangements for the planned summit between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, which the U.S. leader cancelled Thursday before quickly reviving hopes of holding as originally scheduled in Singapore on June 12.
The Dong-A Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, reported Tuesday that there is a possibility that Kim Yong Chol and Pompeo may visit Washington and Pyongyang, respectively, by the end of this week at the earliest.
U.S. and North Korean officials have held working-level talks since Sunday, at the border village of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, to prepare for the summit.
The newspaper said the possible visits by Kim Yong Chol and Pompeo — Kim to the United States and Pompeo to North Korea — are contingent on the outcome of the pre-summit talks under way at Panmunjeom.