(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).
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.
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.
Injured Wolves forward Hwang Hee-chan to undergo treatment in S. Korea
Ex-gov't employee summarily indicted for alleged attempt to sell Jungkook's lost hat
BTS fails to win Grammy for 3rd consecutive year
S. Korea opens metaverse platform for Korean-language learning
Pirates' Choi Ji-man says 'deeply hurt' to be dropped from WBC team
Five years after its full nuke armament claim, N. Korea's threat becomes real, further complicated
(News Focus) S. Korea grapples with calls for nuclear armament
Talk of 'normalizing' GSOMIA raises hope, skepticism around Seoul-Tokyo ties
S. Korea, U.S., Japan close ranks amid growing N.K. threats
N. Korea says month-old virus crisis under control, but skepticism lingers