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Trump Expected to Receive Personal Letter from N. Korean Leader

By VOA News June 01, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to receive a personal letter Friday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of preparations for a potential summit later this month between the two men.

Trump is expected to receive the letter from a senior North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol, who is traveling to Washington. Kim Yong Chol is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States in nearly 20 years. The development comes a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "real progress" had been made in discussions to revive the potential June 12 summit.

"We've made real progress in the last 72 hours in setting the conditions," Pompeo said at a news conference after meeting with Kim Yong Chol, adding, "There remains a great deal of work to do."

Pompeo said he believes North Korea is contemplating a new strategic path forward, but he cautioned that the country would "have to choose a path that is fundamentally different" to achieve security - meaning complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.

"Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship in which it could be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste," Pompeo said.

Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol met at a U.S. government-leased apartment near the United Nations. They talked over a steak dinner Wednesday and chocolate croissants Thursday morning. The two men met twice before in Pyongyang.

Earlier, President Trump said talks between Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol had been going well, and that he hoped to hold a summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on the originally scheduled date of June 12. Trump said he looks forward to seeing what is in the letter the North Korean delegation is bringing to Washington.

Trump later told the Reuters news agency it may take more than one meeting with Kim Jong Un to seal a denuclearization deal with North Korea and that he would like Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons program as quickly as possible under any agreement.

Representatives of the Koreas, meanwhile, agreed Friday to hold "inter-Korean general-level military talks" June 14 to ease military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.

The agreement was reached during talks at the Peace House of Panmunjom, a venue in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, where representatives also committed to discuss on June 18 potential athletic endeavors, "including joint entries to the South-North unification basketball game and the 2018 Asian Games."

The two Koreas also agreed to discuss humanitarian issues, including the "reunion of separated families and relatives" on June 22 at the North's Mount Geumgang resort. And they agreed to pursue dates and places for further talks on matters such as railway, road and forestry cooperation.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Pyongyang Thursday, according to North Korea's official state news agency. KCNA said Kim told Lavrov that he hopes North Korea's issues with the United States - including the state of U.S.-Korean relations and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula - can be "solved on a stage-by-stage basis" through "effective and constructive dialogue and negotiation."

The White House said talks of the "total denuclearization of the peninsula" do not extend to U.S. weapons systems - a defense umbrella covering South Korea that includes nuclear-armed submarines and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs not based on the peninsula.

North Korea is estimated to have more than a dozen nuclear weapons.

An advance team, led by deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, has held meetings with the North Korean team in Singapore this week.

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