Sergey Lavrov meets Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, invites him to Russian Federation

Saul Bowman
May 31, 2018

The comments came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened a second day of talks with Gen. Kim Yong Chol, who is often described as the right-hand man to Kim Jong Un. Associated Press journalists saw the plane touch down at New York's JFK International Airport and the North Korean delegation get off the plane.

The United States and North Korea are now arranging a summit between their leaders in Singapore on June 12. "Hopefully we will have a meeting on the (June) 12th", Trump said, adding there may be multiple meetings but "maybe we'll have none".

Lavrov was the first Russian official to be received by Kim, Russian news agencies said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official met in New York Wednesday as both sides push to salvage a highly anticipated summit between their leaders. "That is how you do these things". The North Koreans complained about administration officials talking up the so-called "Libyan model", a scenario that ended with the death of that country's leader. Then North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, a longtime nuclear negotiator and senior diplomat, said in a statement carried by state media that the North was willing to sit for talks with the U.S. "The secretary of state is from the heartland and likes American food, and he's hosting someone who's never been to our country", the official said.

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun emphasized on Monday that Pyongyang is denuclearizing because the Workers' Party of Korea made a decision to follow that "path" at the Third Plenary Meeting of its Seventh Central Committee on April 20, not because the United States and its allies forced Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table.

North Korea denied any involvement in either incident.

"Most North Koreans have reacted positively to the recent North-South summit, plans for a North-U.S. summit, and the removal of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site removal because they can expect possible economic reform", he said, referring to a hope that harsh worldwide sanctions placed on the regime in response to its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches may now be eased. The foreign minister invited the North Korean leader to visit Moscow in an effort to ease pressure on the Korean peninsula.

The tone from the White House has been upbeat in recent days and spokeswoman Sarah Sanders sounded optimistic that the summit would go ahead on 12 June, as originally planned.

"I think it's possible for North Korea to denuclearize within President Trump's remaining years in office, as long as it chooses to". Trump had mused that Kim's "attitude" had changed after the North Korean leader's surprise visit to China two weeks ago, suggesting China was pushing Kim away from the table. "We are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12 and if not", she said, "we'll be ready on July 12".

The directives will raise eyebrows among North Koreans who now will not know what to believe about recent developments, despite some signs of enthusiasm about détente with South Korea and the US, said a source from North Pyongan province who declined to be named.

There were reports earlier on Wednesday that South Korean officials were noting "quite significant" differences between the United States and North Korea over denuclearization.

"As for sanctions, it is absolutely obvious that, as we start discussions on how to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula, it is understood that the solution can not be comprehensive without the lifting of sanctions", Mr Lavrov said in a press conference.

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