Kim Jong-un's right-hand man heads to New York to discuss summit

May 31, 2018, 04:48 IST | IANS

Kim Yong-chol, vice-president of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, boarded Air China flight CA981 to JFK airport in New York, a diplomatic source told Yonhap news agency

Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right-hand man departed for New York on a flight from Beijing on Wednesday to finalize details of the summit between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim Yong-chol, vice-president of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, boarded Air China flight CA981 to JFK airport in New York, a diplomatic source told Yonhap news agency.

The flight departed at 1.23 p.m. and was set to arrive at 2 p.m. in New York, according to flight information provided by the airline.

Pyongyang's former head of intelligence was expected to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to work on the summit between Kim and Trump, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Both countries have been working against the clock on multiple diplomatic fronts to sort out their differences -- mainly regarding the possible method of North Korea's denuclearization -- and make the historic summit a reality with less than two weeks remaining before the date that was initially decided.

The North Korean delegation appeared to include Choe Kang-il, acting director-general for North American affairs at Pyongyang's Foreign ministry, and Kim Song-hye, an official who has long been in charge of inter-Korean issues.

Kim Yong-chol evaded contact with media at the international airport in Beijing. He was set to fly to Washington on Tuesday but changed his plan, deciding leave for New York on Wednesday, which came amid speculations he could have met Chinese authorities during this interval.

Yonhap quoted a source as saying that the North Korean official's ticket was booked just hours before his departure, possibly after being given the go-ahead by Washington as the US had imposed a travel ban on him due to his connection with Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

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