US and North Korean officials are set to meet in Singapore on Tuesday for logistics planning for the proposed summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin arrived in Singapore on Monday, and is leading the ‘pre-advance’ team that will discuss security and protocol issues with the North. An advance team precedes any presidential trip.
A US air convoy consisting of an executive plane and a military C-17 Globemaster III believed to be carrying Hagin’s team stopped over at Yokota Air Base in Japan on Monday.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said on Saturday that the ‘pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place.’
Kim Chang-son, a senior official at the State Affairs Commission, will represent North Korea in the preparatory discussions, Yonhap reported citing a diplomatic source.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin (center) arrived in Singapore on Monday, and is leading the ‘pre-advance’ team that will handle security and protocol issues
A US air convoy (above) of an executive plane and military C-17 Globemaster III believed to be carrying Hagin’s team stopped over at Yokota Air Base in Japan on Monday
Hagin’s counterpart for the logistics discussion, Kim Chang-son, is seen on the far left walking near Kim Jong Un (front) and the North Korean leader’s sister (third from left) last month
Kim Chang-son is Kim Jong Un’s chief aide, responsible for scheduling, itineraries, protocol and the flow of reports, policy documents and communications to and from the leader.
The high-ranking North Korean official arrived in Singapore fresh off a mystery trip to Beijing to meet with top officials there, according to the Japan Times.
Trump canceled the June 12 summit on Thursday, but then a day later suggested it could be back on track, and the latest White House statement says the meeting is ‘expected’.
Hagin’s team is one of three groups conducting parallel discussions with North Korean representatives in the lead-up to the summit.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tapped veteran American diplomat Sung Kim, the US ambassador to the Philippines, to handle the main pre-summit negotiations in the DMZ border village of Panmunjom.
Those discussions have reportedly focused on denuclearization timelines and security guarantees for the North.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim is seen in a file photo. He has been tapped to handle the main pre-summit negotiations in the DMZ border village of Panmunjom
Sung Kim (left), US ambassador to the Philippines, and Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, leave from a hotel in downtown Seoul on Monday for Panmunjom
Choe Son-jui (left), North Korea’s vice foreign minister, and Choe Kang-il, a senior official with the North’s foreign ministry, are said to be working-level negotiators for talks with Sung Kim
Experts say that after those working-level talks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could meet with Kim Yong-chol, a vice central committee chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, for final preparations. That meeting could take place in Washington DC.
The third team on a separate but complementary track to the other discussions was a CIA team Pompeo set up last year when he headed the spy agency.
On Monday, Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the phone and the White House confirmed that the two will meet ahead of the summit.
‘The two leaders discussed recent developments in North Korea and confirmed they would meet again to continue close coordination in advance of the expected meeting between the United States and North Korea,’ the White House said in a statement out the call.
In this file photo taken on April 17, 2018, US President Donald Trump greets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida
‘The President and Prime Minister affirmed the shared imperative of achieving the complete and permanent dismantlement of North Koreas nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs,’ the statement said.
Trump and Abe are scheduled to attend the G7 meeting of major industrialized nations June 8 in Canada, giving them a possible venue to meet.
Timeline for denuclearization is expected to be a major sticking point in any negotiations between Trump and Kim.
The North will push for a gradual drawdown, while the US wants a quick and decisive nuclear dearmament.