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Pompeo in Talks with Blacklisted North Korean Official in New York

NEW YORK, Jun 1 2018 (IPS) - A rare closed-door meeting between the United States and North Korea was described as a major breakthrough—the first time in nearly two decades.

The venue for the meeting was, not surprisingly, New York City which hosts the Permanent Mission of North Korea to the United Nations, the only official presence of the heavily-sanctioned Pyongyang regime in the United States.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with General Kim Yong Chol, the highest ranking North Korean official to visit the US in 18 years, who is also described as the “right-hand man” of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The meeting was in advance of the upcoming summit meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump scheduled to take place in Singapore June 11-12.

Prior to the talks in New York, the Trump administration issued a waiver for General Kim to travel to the US since the Obama administration had blacklisted him back in 2010 for his role as the head of North Korean intelligence agency.

The agency had been castigated for its secretive role in supplying conventional weapons to countries such as Syria in defiance of UN sanctions.

General Kim refused to respond to questions from the press as he left the residence of the deputy permanent representative of the United States to the UN, where he and his delegation were hosted for dinner.

After the bilateral talks, Pompeo told reporters: “I believe they are contemplating a path forward where they can make a strategic shift, one that the country had not been prepared to make before. And they will have to choose”

With Singapore summit still up in the air, a senior State Department official was quoted as saying: “The president can make a fly or no-fly decision any time he wants to.”


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