North Korean official reportedly heading to US for talks

BEIJING (AP) – A senior North Korean official arrived in Beijing yesterday, reportedly en route to the United States for talks ahead of a possible second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief, arrived at Beijing’s airport and was booked to leave on a flight for Washington with two other North Korean officials later in the day, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.

A motorcade that included the North Korean ambassador’s car and a Chinese car with a sign reading “state guest” could be seen departing from a VIP area at the airport.

Neither the US nor North Korea has announced any meetings.

Kim Yong-chol has been holding talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and related issues.

A planned meeting between the two in New York last November was called off abruptly. US officials said at the time that North Korea had cancelled the talks.

Trump and Kim Jong-un met in Singapore in June, but little progress has been made since then toward America’s goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. North Korea is seeking a lifting of economic sanctions and guarantees of its security.

Kim expressed frustration in an annual New Year’s address over the lack of progress in negotiations. On a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong (C) walks to his car after receiving North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol at the VIP terminal of the Beijing International Airport in Beijing, China. – AP