Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(4th LD) Top N. Korean official departs for Washington

North Korea 19:36 January 17, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 5-6; ADDS photos)

BEIJING, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- A senior North Korean official departed from Beijing to Washington D.C. on Thursday, apparently with a letter from leader Kim Jong-un to President Donald Trump in his suitcase.

Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, left for the U.S. capital on United Airlines flight UA808 following a hourslong stopover here. He is accompanied by two North Korean officials: Kim Song-hye, director of the United Front Department's tactical office, and Choe Kang-il, acting director-general for the foreign ministry's North American affairs.

The plane is slated to land at Dulles International Airport at 6:50 p.m. on Thursday (local time).

Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean official, waits to board a plane bound for Washington, D.C. at the Beijing international airport on Jan. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean official, waits to board a plane bound for Washington, D.C. at the Beijing international airport on Jan. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

The envoy reportedly plans to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday morning and pay a courtesy call on President Donald Trump later.

Upon arriving here at around 11:30 a.m., Kim visited the North Korean Embassy.

When asked whether he met with a Chinese official, Beijing's foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said she is "not aware of any specific information."

The apparent focus of his first Washington visit in eight months is discussion of issues related to a second summit between the Korean War foes.

The Washington Post reported that the summit will likely be held in March or April, with the Vietnamese resort town of Danang having emerged as a top candidate venue.

Both Pyongyang and Washington have yet to announce the North Koreans' itinerary. They may stay in the capital for three days, as they have booked an Air China flight to depart at 3:35 p.m. Saturday, a source said.

It will be the first time for a North Korean government official to arrive in Washington without a stopover in another U.S. city. Last May, Kim Yong-chol traveled there via New York. In 2000, then Vice Marshal Jo Myong-rok visited there through San Francisco.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui in a file photo (Yonhap)

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui in a file photo (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui departed Beijing for Stockholm on Thursday afternoon. She flew into Beijing on Tuesday.

She remained tightlipped despite a barrage of questions from reporters at the airport.

She plans to attend a forum in the Swedish capital, where she may hold a meeting with Stephen Biegun, Washington's special representative for Pyongyang.

If held, it would be their first meeting since Biegun assumed the post last August.
(END)

HOME TOP
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!