Kim Yong Chol, a four-star general in the North Korean army, landed in Beijing’s airport on Tuesday on his way to the United States to attend meetings with the Trump administration to discuss salvaging the scheduled June 12 summit in Singapore.
The summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump was called off last week by Trump, who wrote a letter to the North Korean leader. But since then both sides have said they are open to making the summit happen, if certain conditions are met.
Of course, it is the “conditions” that both sides have set forth that are causing the difficulties. Kim thinks the U.S. wants him to get rid of his stockpile of nuclear weapons so they can depose him and install a new government in his country. Kim has also said that he wants the U.S. to stop their joint military exercises with South Korea and to remove nuclear weapons from the region. None of these things is likely to ever happen.
After the summit was called off, the leaders of all three countries realized they were losing points politically. Because of their strong political interests they are working to keep the talks alive, and are giving the appearance of diplomatic progress. Most observers, however, believe it is all for show and nothing of substance will be achieved by the summit.
Kim Yong Chol is one of Kim Jong Un’s top government officials and the fact that he is coming to the U.S. shows the level of seriousness involved in the negotiations. He is expected to arrive in the New York on Wednesday afternoon.
Early on Tuesday morning President Trump sent out the following tweet:
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!”
We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2018
It remains to be seen what will come of this latest effort to make the historic summit meeting happen on June 12th, but the fact that such a high level North Korean official is currently en route to the United States makes clear that both sides want the summit to happen.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.