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Momentum towards US-North Korea summit builds as Mike Pompeo to meet with top Korean official


Secretary of state Mike Pompeo was poised to meet with a top North Korean official amid a flurry of diplomatic activity seeking to revive a cancelled US-Korea summit.

Last week, Donald Trump doused weeks of mounting expectation by abruptly announcing he was calling off a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, faulting the tremendous anger and open hostility in Pyongyangs most recent statement.

But Mr Trump has since said he hopes to salvage the meeting, which could provide an unprecedented opportunity to dismantle North Koreas nuclear weapons programme. The North Korean regime has also projected willingness to re-engage, saying in a statement after Mr Trump pulled out that officials would be willing to gather at any time.

Since Mr Trump sent his letter nixing the summit, the North Koreans have been engaging, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trumps expected summit with leader Kim [Jong-un] in Singapore, she said.

After diplomatic officials spent Memorial Day weekend scrambling to move forward, the White House confirmed that Mr Pompeo, Americas top diplomatic official, was planning to meet in New York with Kim Yong Chol, the vice chairman of North KoreasCentral Committee.

We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more, Mr Trump said in a tweet, praising the regimes Solid response to my letter.

That high-level conclave, which comes months after Mr Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang to meet secretly with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was accompanied by an array of diplomatic moves intended to harness momentum towards talks.

As the North Korean official was preparing to travel to the United States, a US delegation headed to the Korean Peninsula to meet with North Korean counterparts in the demilitarised zone spanning the border. A White House deputy chief of staff went to Singapore to continue laying logistical groundwork.

Administration officials were keeping in close contact with Asian allies, with the White House saying national security adviser John Bolton had been speaking frequently with South Korean and Japanese officials.

The White House also announced that Mr Trump would host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in early June, days before the summit was scheduled to take place. Mr Abe has become a close ally of Mr Trump and is a key figure in the drive to blunt the North Korean threat, which over the last year saw Pyongyang fire multiple ballistic missiles over Japan and threaten to annihilate the archipelago.

Those missile tests and hostile statements, in addition to North Koreas test of a powerful hydrogen bomb, spurred the world to impose ever-harsher sanctions in what Trump administration officials call a maximum pressure campaign to bring Pyongyang to heel.

After Mr Trump and North Korea spent months trading threats and insults, the tone shifted as North Korea initiated meetings with South Korean officials and then conveyed to Mr Trump an invitation to meet with Mr Kim.



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