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Trump says talks positive, expects letter from Kim

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Mr Kim Yong Chol met Mr Pompeo to try to settle nuclear arms disputes and set the stage for a summit between US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.

Washington

PRESIDENT Donald Trump said a North Korean delegation will probably go to Washington on Friday to deliver a letter from leader Kim Jong Un, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in New York with one of Mr Kim's most trusted aides over a potential summit next month.

"I look forward to seeing what's in the letter," Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday before travelling to Texas. "It's very important to them."

Mr Kim Yong Chol, a former North Korean spy chief, met Mr Pompeo on Thursday at a US government apartment on New York's East Side, the same place where they had dinner for about 90 minutes the previous night.

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Mr Pompeo was joined by Andy Kim, head of the Korea desk at the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mark Lambert, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

While Mr Pompeo has travelled twice to North Korea in recent weeks, the meetings are the highest-level talks between the two sides on US soil since 2000, when vice-marshal Jo Myong Rok flew to Washington to meet with then-president Bill Clinton. The back-and-forth reflects just how much has changed since March, when Mr Kim Jong Un indicated he could be prepared to give up his nuclear weapons programme and Mr Trump accepted his invitation to meet.

"Hopefully we'll have a meeting on the 12th. It's going along very well," Mr Trump said on Thursday, referring to the on-and-off plans for a summit in Singapore. "But I want it to be meaningful. Doesn't mean it gets all done in one meeting. Maybe we have to have a second meeting, maybe we'll have none. But it's in good hands, that I can tell you."

A senior State Department official said the talks - along with another set of meetings between American and North Korean officials along the border between South and North Korea going on at the same time - are going to determine if Pyongyang is serious enough about denuclearisation for Mr Trump to meet the North Korean leader.

The official, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, told reporters the administration was looking for a "historic" commitment from North Korea and something that "has never been done before". Mr Trump would be willing to stay for longer than just a day in Singapore if the results are promising, the official said.

Mr Kim Jong Un said on Thursday that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was moving rapidly toward talks, Interfax reported, after he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Mr Kim, who received an invitation to visit Russia, said he valued President Vladimir Putin's stance against US hegemony, the report said.

Resolving North Korea's nuclear issue will require a step-by-step process involving the lifting of sanctions, Tass news agency cited Mr Lavrov as saying after his meeting with North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho. "It is impossible in one move to ensure denuclearisation," Mr Lavrov was quoted as saying. BLOOMBERG