Japan weighs minister-level talks with N Korea

North Korean refugees hope for better times ahead as unification is on the cards

Other U.S. teams met with their North Korean counterparts Wednesday at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, as well as at a neutral meeting place in Singapore where the now-cancelled June summit was to occur. The vice chairman of North Korea's Party Central Committee, he is the top official in charge of relations between North and South Korea and has been present in all recent high-level meetings with South Korea.

He invited Clinton to North Korea, but the visit never happened.

He said his personal denuclearisation estimate ran to 15 years, given the tangle of political and technical uncertainties that the USA and North Korea would face if they went ahead and sought a historic accord.

Talks are focusing on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, press secretary Sarah Sanders says.

Russia's top diplomat arrived in Pyongyang earlier on Thursday, ahead of a landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Pompeo tweeted that he had had a "good working dinner" with Kim on Wednesday night of steak, corn and cheese.

Pompeo's meeting will likely give the United States a final decision as to whether Kim Jong Un will ultimately give up his nuclear arsenal.

Lavrov said he hoped the meeting between Kim and Trump would not degenerate into a trading of accusations.

North Korean senior official Kim Yong-chol arrived in NY on Wednesday to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, fueling speculation that the countries' preparations for the summit are in the final stages.

Such positions, and his omnipresence before and during inter-Korean summits in April and on Saturday, make him one of the most powerful people in North Korea, South Korean officials say.

White House to impose 25% tariff on $50bn worth of Chinese goods
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during a meeting in November. Beijing has already pledged to retaliate against the tariffs.

With just two more weeks to the planned date for a summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, United States Department of State spokesperson Heather Ann Nauert made sure to express gratitude to the very hosts of the historic meeting.

North Korea's Kim Chang-son, director of the North's State Affairs Commission Secretariat, considered equivalent to a chief of staff, and Hagin, both seasoned in arranging protocol matters, were reported to have held a meeting Tuesday.

Mr Trump sent this letter to Kim Jong Un last week.

During his tenure as a senior intelligence official, Kim was accused by South Korea of masterminding deadly attacks on a South Korean navy ship and an island in 2010. Trump's letter, the aides said, was created to pressure the North on the worldwide stage for appearing to have cold feet.

The State Department official said they were seeking a corresponding commitment and "action" from the North Koreans.

As the U.S. and North Korean officials prepared for their first encounter in NY on Wednesday evening, Pompeo repeated the Trump administration's demands.

The White House emphasized that it has remained in close contact with South Korean and Japanese officials as preparations for the talks continue.

Kim would be wise to delay any official visit to Russian Federation until after his meeting with Trump, said Jeong Hyung-gon, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. Trump hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week.

Despite having a border with North Korea and relatively cordial relations that Putin has seemed to want to develop further, Russian Federation has kept a surprisingly low profile as Kim has emerged onto the world stage this year, meeting twice with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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