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Diplomatic flurry suggests US-North Korea summit may go ahead

photo by AP photo

Kim Yong Chol, center , a former military intelligence chief who is now Kim Jong Un\'s top official on inter-Korean relations, walks upon arrival at Beijing airport in Beijing on Tuesday.

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30th-May-2018       
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Reuters, Seoul :
North Korea has dispatched top officials to the United States and Singapore, media reported on Tuesday, the latest indication that an on-again-off-again summit with U.S. President Donald Trump may go ahead.North Korea's Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, was scheduled to fly to the United States on Wednesday after speaking to Chinese officials in Beijing, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing an unidentified source.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, meanwhile, flew to Singapore via Beijing late on Monday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.
At the same time, a "pre-advance" U.S. team was traveling to Singapore to meet North Koreans, the White House said. U.S. government officials, including the White House deputy chief of staff for operations, Joe Hagin, left U.S. Yokota Air Base in Japan for Singapore on Monday, NHK said.
The reports indicate that planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for June 12, is moving ahead after Trump called it off last week.
A day later, Trump said he had reconsidered, and officials from both countries were meeting to work out details.
In Singapore, a team of U.S. officials, with a fleet of idling vehicles on standby, was at a hotel on the resort island of Sentosa but declined to comment.
When Kim Chang Son was asked by a reporter at Beijing airport if he was flying to Singapore for talks with the United States, he said he was "going there to play", according to footage from Nippon Television Network.
Choe Kang Il, a North Korean foreign ministry official involved with North America issues, was also spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport, according to Yonhap. It did not say whether Choe would be accompanying Kim Yong Chol.
China's foreign ministry said it had no information to offer on any North Korean officials traveling to the United States via Beijing.
North Korea has faced years of isolation and economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.
But events have moved quickly since Kim Jong Un made a conciliatory New Year's address at the end of last year, following months of sharply rising tension.
In a flurry of diplomacy over recent days, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting on Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed the North Korea-U.S. summit must be held.
On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said American and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom. Sung Kim, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and current ambassador to the Philippines, led the U.S. delegation, an official told Reuters.

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