Pompeo’s North Korean counterpart boards flight for Washington

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SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s top envoy involved in denuclearisation talks with the United States boarded a flight in Beijing for Washington on Thursday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.

U.S. and South Korean media previously quoted unidentified sources as saying U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean official Kim Yong Chol were expected to meet in the U.S. capital on Friday to discuss a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo had planned to meet his North Korean counterpart to discuss a second summit last November, but the meeting was postponed.

Kim Yong Chol was last in Washington in June, when he delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump that opened the way for an unprecedented meeting between the leaders of the two countries in Singapore on June 12.

CNN quoted a source familiar with the U.S.-North Korea talks as saying that Kim Yong Chol would be carrying a new letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump.

Chinese and South Korean envoys on Korean peninsula affairs met in Seoul on Thursday, the South’s foreign ministry said. Kong Xuanyou and Lee Do-Hoon were expected to have discussed ways to achieve denuclearisation.

In Singapore last year, Kim Jong Un pledged to work towards denuclearisation, but there has been little significant progress since.

Contact was resumed after the North Korean leader delivered a New Year speech in which he said he was willing to meet Trump “at any time”, South Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Cho Yoon-je, told reporters last week.