US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un's right-hand man over "steak, corn, and cheese" in New York. Washington is pushing for "irreversible" denuclearization, but Pyongyang has yet to commit.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Wednesday with Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang argues that it needed nuclear weapons for its security. North Korea remains under international sanction because of its nuclear program.
Hectic diplomacy: The meeting was part of a flurry of diplomatic efforts to restore the highly anticipated Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. As Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol were talking over dinner, teams of US officials were meeting their North Korean counterparts in Singapore and in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Who is Kim Yong Chol? A former North Korean spy chief, Kim Yong Chol is among the most trusted aides of the North Korean leader. He is a vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee. Kim Yong Chol has played a major role in the recent thaw in North Korea's relations with South Korea and the US. He joined Kim Jong Un in both his meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and May. He also hosted Pompeo during his recent Pyongyang visits.
What next? Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol are expected to hold a series of meetings on Thursday to ascertain whether the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un, originally scheduled for June 12 but later canceled by Trump, can be restored. South Korean media speculated that Kim Yong Chol was carrying a personal letter from the North Korean leader and might travel to Washington to deliver it to Trump in person.