In remarks to reporters after a meeting on Thursday in NY with Kim Yong-chol, one of Kim Jong-un's most trusted advisers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized the security that the North could derive if it agreed to denuclearize.
The Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back on for June 12, following a theatrical note exchange at the White House Friday. "I think they're OK", Trump said of relations between the two nations.
Kim Yong Chol, the North Korean leader's top aide, is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years, and his trip to the White House will be a highly symbolic sign of easing tensions after fears of war escalated amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests last year.
The two leaders are scheduled to meet on June 12 in Singapore to negotiate terms of North Korea's denuclearisation.
"I look forward to the day I can take the sanctions off North Korea", Trump added.
Trump was meeting in the Oval Office with Kim's envoy, Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief and now the country's top nuclear negotiator. But since then, planning discussions have resumed, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's high-level meetings this week in NY with the North Korean official.
Pompeo spoke after meeting with Kim Yong-chol for a little more than two hours at the residence of the deputy USA ambassador to the United Nations.
The president reiterated that he had no plans to sign anything on June 12, but added that he looked forward to lifting economic sanctions now imposed on North Korea.
Pompeo said that after a series of meetings he believes the talks are going in "the right direction".
Lavrov invited Kim to Russian Federation, and called for a phased approach to denuclearization, including easing of global sanctions on North Korea.
The US secretary of state, who spoke with Trump on Wednesday night (Thursday NZT) and with National Security Adviser John Bolton early Thursday (Friday NZT), was accompanied by Andrew Kim, the head of a Central Intelligence Agency unit assigned to work on North Korea, and Mark Lambert, the head of the State Department's Korea desk. He said he had just met with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's top nuclear weapons negotiator.
Upon arrival in NY, the former spy chief was escorted out of the airport by U.S. State Department officials, according to a North Korean official who spoke to reporters waiting for his arrival.
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The White House emphasized that it has remained in close contact with South Korean and Japanese officials as preparations for the talks continue.
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters prior to departing Washington en route Houston, Texas from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., May 31, 2018.
Asked whether the answer would come on Friday in the letter, Pompeo said he did not know but added "we have made real progress in the last 72 hours toward setting the conditions".
On Sunday, officials from North Korea and the US met for talks at the "truce village" in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the Korean Peninsula. "It's hard to envision a scenario, in which Kim Jong-un would be satisfied with any security guarantees that the USA might offer in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons", he said.
Trump said he had not yet read leader Kim's letter.
The North Korean official is carrying a letter to Trump from Kim Jong Un.
USA defense and intelligence officials have repeatedly assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental US with a nuclear-tipped missile - a capacity that Trump and other USA officials have said they would not tolerate.
North Korea has made advances in missile technology in recent years but Trump has sworn not to allow it to develop nuclear missiles that could hit the United States.
The meetings are working toward a planned denuclearisation summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim - an event hailed as a pivotal shift in tensions following North Korean nuclear tests a year ago.
"I told them, take your time".
This Reuters photo shows Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, arriving at his hotel in NY on May 30, 2018.