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(4th LD) Trump puts N. Korea summit back on for June 12

All Headlines 04:05 June 02, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES in paras 1-5; CHANGES headline)

WASHINGTON, June 1 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday put a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un back on for June 12 following weeks of uncertainty over whether it would take place.

Trump said after meeting with a senior North Korean official at the White House that the summit will go ahead in Singapore to discuss the dismantlement of the North's nuclear weapons program.

Kim Yong-chol, a close aide to Kim Jong-un, delivered a letter from the leader to Trump.

The U.S. president said it was "very nice" and "very interesting," but later added that he didn't read it.

The official, the top North Korean to enter the White House in nearly two decades, traveled from New York following two days of meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a possible summit between their leaders.

Pompeo said after the meetings that "real progress" was made toward "setting the conditions" for a summit, but he also said there remains "a great deal of work to do."

This photo, provided by the U.S. State Department, shows Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York on May 31, 2018. (Yonhap)

The two sides are at odds over how far North Korea will go in dismantling its nuclear weapons program and what security guarantees the regime would receive in return.

The U.S. wants to see the North quickly and "irreversibly" dismantle the program before providing significant concessions, but the North has rejected "unilateral" abandonment.

Trump called off the summit in an open letter to Kim last week, citing "open hostility" from the regime. He since put it back on track amid a flurry of diplomacy.

North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Ja Song-nam refused to discuss the outcome of this week's meetings in New York.

"It should be coming if you wait a little," he told Yonhap at Kim Yong-chol's hotel in New York, when asked about his country's position.

Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, is the highest-ranking North Korean to visit the U.S. since 2000.

That year Vice Marshal Jo Myong-rok visited the White House and met with then President Bill Clinton.

Kim is under U.S. sanctions for his alleged role in North Korea's nuclear weapons program and other illicit activities, including the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors.

He was likely granted a temporary waiver to travel to the U.S.

hague@yna.co.kr
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