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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
Updated 1950 EST to include details of Special Representative Biegun’s planned trip to Sweden to continue negotiations
A second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump will take place towards the end of February, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Friday.
The comments came shortly after a meeting between Trump and a high level North Korean official – Kim Yong Chol – which took place at the White House.
“President Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February,” Sanders said.
She added that Trump, “looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date.”
The meeting, should it be realized, follows their June 12, 2018 summit held in Singapore – the first between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. President.
Since the Singapore summit, diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to plateau with no concrete progress having been made towards denuclearization.
Kim Yong Chol had met earlier on Friday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, shortly after, traveled to the White House to meet with Trump.
Kim, vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s (WPK) Central Committee, is leading a nine-person delegation to Washington, which arrived in the capital on Thursday evening.
While Pompeo did not comment when posing for pictures after the meeting with Kim and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino did issue a statement.
“Secretary Pompeo and Special Representative Steve Biegun had a good discussion this morning with DPRK Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol on efforts to make progress on the commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore,” he said.
According to Palladino, Kim and Pompeo were also scheduled to have lunch on Friday.
“Secretary Pompeo has invited Vice Chairman Kim and the DPRK delegation to lunch following the conclusion of his meeting with the President,” he said.
Palladino said in another statement released late Friday that “the two sides held a productive first meeting at the working level” following Pompeo’s initial talks with Kim, but did not provide details regarding the participants.
That statement also confirmed earlier reports Special Representative Biegun will travel to Sweden from January 19-22 “to participate in an international conference hosted by the Swedish foreign ministry.”
He is expected to meet there with another of North Korea’s top nuclear negotiators, Choe Son Hui, who traveled to Sweden from Beijing on Thursday.
Choe previously told reporters on Tuesday upon her arrival in Beijing that she, too, was off to an “international conference in Sweden.”