North Korea's Kim Yong-chol heads to U.S. for talks

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in embrace at their meeting in the DMZ

The leaders of the two Koreas held a surprise meeting in a bid to save a summit with the US. AAP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's top aide Kim Yong Chol arrived at Beijing on Tuesday, while en route to the United States to hold talks about a possible summit between the former and President Donald Trump.

Yonhap said Kim Yong-chol's name was on the passenger list for a flight on Wednesday from Beijing to NY. Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Trump is the first USA president in recent times to open a constructive dialogue with North Korea.

The White House gave no details as to when the Trump-Abe meeting might take place, but both leaders are due to attend the G7 meeting of big industrial powers that runs from June 8 to 9 in Canada.

South Korean and Japanese media reports said that Choe Kang Il, deputy director-general for North American affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry was also among the officials who arrived from Pyongyang, and could travel on to NY. President Barack Obama went as far as to threaten North Korea with the "military might" of the U.S.in 2014. Because of this, he is banned from visiting the United States normally, indicating a waiver would be needed to enter.

South Korea blamed him for the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean military ship, in 2010, which killed 46 South Koreans.

A top North Korean official is traveling to the United States to lay the groundwork for the off-again, on-again talks between dictator Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

President Trump confirms a high-ranking North Korean official is traveling to the USA for talks about a possible summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Sung Kim, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea who is now ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, a United States official told Reuters.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed on Sunday that officials from Pyongyang and Washington had held preparatory talks on the northern part of the Panmunjom.

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"They plan to have additional meetings this week", Sanders said.

The latest flurry of diplomacy began on Saturday, when Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting on at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed the North Korea-US summit must be held.

At their first meeting on April 27, Kim and Moon announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and permanent peace, which Seoul has tried to sell as a meaningful breakthrough that increases the chances of successful talks between Kim and Trump.

"Since the president's May 24 letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the North Koreans have been engaging", the White House said Tuesday.

He would be the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years. North Korea has officially denied the incident.

Former United States Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim is reportedly leading the USA delegation to the talks.

He would be the most high profile North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000.

Kim's trip the US could be to reciprocate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visits to North Korea.

Choe's participation in the discussions at Panmunjom with USA officials indicates discussions have entered the diplomatic level to officially iron out various details of negotiation. "That was short-lived leverage for the U.S. That was a mistake".

North Korea has faced years of isolation and economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. The main stumbling block is likely to be the concept of "denuclearisation" - both sides say they want it, but there is a yawning gap between their definitions.

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