National Security & Defense

Top Kim Jong Un Aides Head to Singapore and US

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a ceremony in Beijing, March 28, 2018. (KCNA/via Reuters)

North Korean officials are reportedly headed to Singapore and New York to continue preparations for the expected summit between President Trump and leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between a president and North Korean leader.

Kim Chang Son, a top aide to Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore Monday night, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Meanwhile, Kim Yong-chol, a former North Korean spy chief and senior official, is currently headed to New York, Trump wrote on Twitter early Tuesday morning.

The White House also said that a “pre-advance” team was meeting North Korea in Singapore, the selected location for the historic summit. The White House deputy chief of staff for operations, Joe Hagin, was seen in Singapore.

President Trump called off the planned June 12 summit last week after “open hostility” from North Korea. The country had again threatened nuclear war, and a senior official called Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for warning the rogue nation to make a deal with the U.S.

However, Trump left the door open to rescheduling the talks if North Korea behaved better, and the country responded that it is willing to talk “at any time in any form,” a response Trump praised as “warm and productive.”

“Solid response to my letter, thank you!” the president said.

North Korea almost called off the summit as well over military exercises between South Korea and some of the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea since the Korean War.

The White House said that Trump spoke with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe over the phone on Monday and agreed they would meet in person before the “expected” summit. The two leaders “affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs.”

Kim Jong-un met spontaneously with South Korean president Moon Jae-in again on Saturday near the border and agreed the U.S. summit is necessary. Moon is considering attending the summit as well.

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