White House: US ‘continues to actively prepare’ for summit

The U.S. “continues to actively prepare” for an “expected summit” between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the White House said, as diplomatic efforts are underway on two continents to prepare for the historic meeting.

Trump confirmed Tuesday that a top North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol, is headed to New York for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It marks the latest sign that prospects for the summit are growing, just days after it was ostensibly called off by Trump, as teams of U.S. officials have arrived at the Korean demilitarized zone and in Singapore to prepare for the meeting.

The conference had been scheduled for June 12 in the island nation, but Trump announced last week that he had decided to “terminate” the meeting following a provocative statement from the North and its decision to skip planning talks and ignore preparatory phone calls. White House officials have characterized the letter from the president to Kim as a negotiating tactic, designed to bring the North back to the table.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that since the letter, “the North Koreans have been engaging,” with the U.S.

“The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump’s expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

South Korean media had reported earlier that Kim Yong Chol’s name was on the passenger list for a fight Wednesday from Beijing to New York. Kim was seen in the Beijing airport on Tuesday by Associated Press Television. U.S. officials familiar with planning said he was scheduled to meet with Pompeo on Thursday.

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