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Kim aide meets Trump at White House to hand him letter from North Korean leader

Kim Yong Chol, a close aide of Kim Jong-un, met US President Donald Trump on Friday at the White House to hand him a letter from the North Korean leader, as the two countries try to put a derailed summit back on track.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2018 23:58 IST
Reuters, Washington/Seoul
Kim Yong Chol,Kim Jong-un,Donald Trump
North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol walks with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as he arrives to deliver a letter to US President Donald Trump at the White House.(Reuters)

A senior North Korean official met United States President Donald Trump on Friday at the White House to hand him a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as the two countries try to put a derailed summit back on track.

Kim Yong Chol, a close aide of the North Korean leader, is the highest level figure from the secretive state to hold talks at the White House since a senior envoy visited former President Bill Clinton in 2000.

The envoy walked into the Oval Office to meet Trump. The United States previously blacklisted Kim Yong Chol, who once served as a bodyguard to the current leader’s father Kim Jong Il, from coming to the US because of his role in North Korea’s military establishment.

After exchanging threats and insults since Trump became president last year, the US and North Korea have been trying to set up a summit, originally planned for Singapore on June 12, between their leaders at which Trump wants to pressure Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons.

In comments to Reuters on Thursday, Trump played down the chances of a quick breakthrough in the nuclear diplomacy. He said he was hopeful an unprecedented meeting with leader Kim would take place as scheduled but left open the possibility talks would fall through.

Kim’s letter is seen as a sign that the summit might be back on after Trump cancelled it late last month because of North Korea’s “tremendous anger and open hostility”.

The Wall Street Journal said Kim’s letter was seen as fairly basic, according to one foreign government official who was briefed on the contents. It expresses the North Korean leader’s interest in meeting without making any significant concessions or threats, the Journal said, citing a foreign government official who had been briefed on the letter.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 23:57 IST