Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan will arrive in North Korea on Thursday ahead of a landmark summit in his country next week between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
A statement released by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Singapore late Wednesday evening said the minister would make an official visit to Pyongyang from June 7-8 at the invitation of North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.
His visit comes off the heels of a trip earlier in the week by Balakrishnan to Washington, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Balakrishnan is also scheduled to meet the DPRK’s President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong Nam during his two-day visit.
The minister is expected to discuss next Tuesday’s Trump-Kim summit with his North Korean counterparts, and his visit comes amid speculation on whether the Singaporean government will cover the cost of security, lodging, or other expenses the DPRK delegation may incur during their visit to the city-state.
The Singaporean MFA is yet to respond to requests for clarification on the issue from NK News.
Meanwhile, DPRK’s top negotiator in Singapore Kim Chang Son is expected to return to home today after arriving in Beijing on Wednesday.
Kim Chang Son serves as Kim Jong Un’s chief secretary as well as director of department at the DPRK State Affairs Commission.
A U.S. delegation in Singapore, led by White House deputy chief of staff for operations Joe Hagin, will “remain in place until the summit begins,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said during a press briefing on Monday.
The team is “finalizing logistical preparations” for the fast-approaching Trump-Kim summit, Sanders said, though it is unclear if negotiations will continue following Kim Chang Son’s departure.
Both Hagin and Kim arrived in Singapore on May 28 and have met numerous times to discuss the location and other practical details of the summit.
Further details of the talks between the two sides have been kept mostly under wraps and, while the two have not been photographed together, both have been spotted in Singapore.
Another set of ongoing summit negotiations, led by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, continued Wednesday on the North Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
Sung Kim is accompanied by Allison Hooker, a Korea specialist on the National Security Council, and Randall Schriver, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
They met yesterday with North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui at the Tongilgak building for their sixth round of talks.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the team at Panmunjom was continuing to discuss summit preparations with the North Koreans and that Ambassador Kim “speaks sometimes multiple times a day” with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report on its progress.
Nauert previously said these talks were centered on the “content” of the June 12 summit.
Following sporadic talks throughout their first week, the meetings have increased in frequency in recent days as the June 12 summit draws near.
An end date to the these talks has not yet been announced.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: State Department
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