Top North Korean official expected to deliver letter to Trump in Washington

Sergei Lavrov

Trump is scheduled to meet Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, which will mark the first time a sitting United States president will meet face-to-face with a North Korean leader.

Trump said after an Oval Office meeting Friday with North Korea's Kim Yong Chol that he'd be making a mistake not to go forward with the on-again, off-again nuclear summit in Singapore.

While admitting that dealing with North Korea was "going to be a process", Trump said he believed that process would ultimately be "successful".

"These talks go to the question of security and if anything that's probably most immediately paramount to Kim", he said.

Until Kim agrees to denuclearization, Trump added, the USA sanctions on North Korea will remain as they are now. Under Trump, the USA has led a "maximum pressure" campaign of military drills and strict sanctions against North Korea, which has so far refused to abandon the nuclear weapons it believes are necessary to protect it from a US invasion.

"It is an ironic and telling deviation from North Korea's insistence on being treated on an 'equal footing, ' " said Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at Council on Foreign Relations.

"I'm not going to put them on until such time as the talks break down", he said. "Remember what I say: We will see what we will see". "Can you believe we're talking about the ending of the Korean War?" He also said it was likely that more than one meeting would be necessary.

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"Our secretary of state is having very good meetings", Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews before departing on a trip to Texas. Trump read the letter he delivered from his leader after talking to reporters on the South Lawn, but the White House did not disclose what Kim Jong Un wrote.

Mr. Trump views a summit as a legacy-defining opportunity to make a nuclear deal, but he has left the world guessing since canceling the meeting last week in an open letter to Kim that complained of the North's "tremendous anger and open hostility".

North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol shakes hands with President Donald Trump as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on, after a meeting at the White House, on June 1.

On Thursday, after talks with Kim Yong-chol in NY, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed confidence that the process was moving in the right direction, but warned that the North's young leader must be bold enough to make a "strategic shift" in understanding that he will be safer without nuclear weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Louisville warned Trump to be dispassionate about North Korea. Trump's action prompted North Korea to send a conciliatory response the next day seeking to hold the meeting as scheduled, and Trump said he was open to that idea. Despite Kim's apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are many doubts that he would fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his guarantee of survival.

The meeting followed two landmark summits between the leaders of North and South Korea in the last five weeks.

Kim Yong Chul, who till now was under United States sanctions, is likely to stay in the country till tomorrow.

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