North Korea and United States ramp up talks in three locations

ImageCreditDoug Mills  The New York Times

Lavrov's visit to Kim comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with a senior North Korean official in NY, where they tried to work through recent problems to get the USA and North Korea back on track for a June 12 summit between President Trump and Kim in Singapore.

This handout photograph obtained courtesy of the US Department of State shows Kim Yong-chol (right), Vice Chairman of North Korea, during his dinner meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) on May 30, 2018 in NY.

Lavrov spoke to his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo by telephone for the first time on Wednesday ahead of the secretary of state's dinner meeting with Kim Yong Chol. Sung Kim, the USA envoy to the Philippines and a former ambassador to South Korea; Randall G. Schriver, the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs; and Allison Hooker, director for Korea on the White House's National Security Council, traveled to North Korea Sunday and held talks with their counterparts.

The White House said on Wednesday that negotiations at the demilitarized zone along the border between North and South Korea for the summit were going well.

Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist who has previously travelled to North Korea to inspect its nuclear site, co-authored the assessment with Robert Carlin, a Korea analyst who spent years at the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department, and Elliot Serbin, Hecker's research assistant.

Kim Yong Chol, believed to be 72, and Pompeo's talks will largely focus on rescheduling the summit.

Kim's personal meeting with Lavrov was likely a move to try to secure Russia - along with China - as another powerful player that can push the United States to ease sanctions and make other concessions, said Anthony Rinna, a specialist in Korea-Russia relations at Sino-NK, a website that analyzes the region. "It was the first official meeting with him face to face", TASS quoted a source in the minister's delegation as saying. Pompeo later said the Americans had heard only "dial tones" when they tried to contact their North Korean counterparts to make preparations.

U.S. announces new tariffs on China ahead of talks with Beijing
State Department will implement measures from June 11 to "enhance security for some Chinese visa applicants", the official said . Yet if the two sides can't come to an agreement on the outline of the talks, Ross' trip could be scuttled, The Journal said.

There were reports earlier on Wednesday that South Korean officials were noting "quite significant" differences between the United States and North Korea over denuclearization. North Korea's mission to the United Nations in NY is its sole diplomatic presence in the United States. It's not clear if they will extend their meetings with North Korean officials.

Mr Trump sent this letter to Kim Jong Un last week. "It is the first step toward building political trust between North Korea and the USA".

She referred to Trump's abrupt cancellation of the June 12 summit with the North through an open letter addressed to Kim Jong-un issued on May 24, in response to bellicose rhetoric coming from Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry, and a subsequent series of preparatory meetings since. A former envoy to North Korea, Karlov was assassinated in Turkey in 2016.

Zakharova replied that Russian Federation had "planned a number of initiatives", adding, "I think that I will be able to share more information on this subject in the near future".

"We're going to be prepared if it takes place on June 12", White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.

But since then, the two governments have engaged in a flurry of diplomacy aimed at salvaging the summit: in Singapore, the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, and at Pompeo's NY meeting with Kim Yong-chol, a former spy chief and vice-chairman of the ruling Workers' party.

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