SEOUL, South Korea – The chief negotiator for North Korea, Kim Jong-un, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday. He is reported to be traveling to the United States to finalize a plan for a Kim Kim summit, and President Trump
Kim Yong-chol, a deputy chairman of the ruling Labor Party of the North and former intelligence chief of the country, was at the Beijing airport sighted after arriving from North Korea on Tuesday Associated Press
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the negotiator had booked a seat on a flight to New York on Wednesday and that he was likely to meet Chinese officials on Tuesday. The South Korean government said it could not confirm the Yonhap report.
When he travels to the United States, Kim Yong-Chol will be the longest-serving North Korean official to visit the country since Vice President Jo Myong-rok met President Bill Clinton in the White House in 2000.
Vice-Marshall Jo was sent by then-leader of the North, Kim Jong-il – the father of the current leader – to ask Clinton to visit Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Mr. Clinton decided that at the end of his term of office he could not take such bold diplomatic steps and instead sent his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.
In recent months, the United States and North Korea have come closer than ever to hold the first summit of the country's leaders. In March, Mr. Trump surprised many people by accepting Kim Jong-us's invitation to a meeting, which was forwarded by South Korean ambassadors. But last Thursday Mr. Trump abruptly canceled the meeting scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
He then changed the course on Friday, saying that the meeting could actually take place as planned. Officials from the United States and North Korea have since 1945 begun a whirlwind of work-plane diplomacy on the border between North and South Korea and in Singapore to fill a void as the North can be demonuclearized and the proposed meeting rescued.
Kim Yong-chol served as chief advisor to Kim Jong-us during a dizzying series of recent diplomatic approaches. The negotiator sat next to the North Korean leader when he met with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and President Xi Jinping of China in recent months.
Kim Yong-Chol, a former head of the main intelligence service of the North or General Reconnaissance Bureau, has been on sanction lists, both in South Korea and the United States, for his alleged role in military provocations and nuclear weapons development North in recent years. But the sanctions do not prohibit his trip abroad.