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A top North Korean official headed to NY on Wednesday for talks aimed at salvaging a summit between Kim Jong Un and president Donald Trump on the future of Kim's nuclear program, in the North's highest-level mission to the United States in 18 years.

The US and South Korea previously blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North's nuclear and missile programmes in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

North Korea's Kim Yong-chol - the regime's former spy chief and the current director of its department for inter-Korean relations - was spotted taking a flight bound for NY on Tuesday afternoon in Beijing.

"The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump's expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore", it said in a statement. Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Lavrov would hold talks with North Korea's foreign policy chief to discuss bilateral issues as well as the overall situation on the Korean peninsula.

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

Chung Sung-yoon, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Yong-chol would be the most senior North Korean official to step onto U.S. soil since Vice-Marshall Jo Myong-rok met President Bill Clinton in 2000.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the American officials including Sung Kim, the US ambassador to Manila, were heading to the border village between the two Koreas, where they met with North Korean officials on Sunday. The North's arsenal now includes purported thermonuclear warheads and developmental long-range missiles potentially capable of reaching mainland US cities.

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Meeting trump and Kim Jong UN should pass on June 12 in Singapore, reminiscent of "Bagnet".

Kim led the delegation that hosted Pompeo on a brief visit to North Korea earlier this month, greeting him at the airport and also bidding him farewell at the steps of his plane.

Trump appears optimistic that a meeting with Kim will take place, sending updates on the proposal on Twitter over Memorial Day weekend.

Delegates from the U.S. and North Korea arrived in Singapore on Monday, May 28, to discuss logistics and security for the summit.

"We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date", Trump tweeted Friday.

USA officials cast the on-again, off-again drama as in keeping with Trump's deal-making style, and reflective of the technically still-warring leaders testing each other.

Trump views the meeting as a legacy-defining opportunity to make the nuclear deal that has evaded others, but he pledged to walk away from the meeting if he believed the North wasn't serious about discussing dismantling its nuclear program. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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The general is a notorious figure in South Korea, where he is accused of masterminding the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan navy corvette, which killed 46 sailors, an attack for which North Korea denies responsibility.

While Kim Yong Chol's trip to the United States could further brighten the prospects for the summit, history shows that things could still crumble at the last minute even after an exchange of high-level officials.

Moon said on Monday there could be more impromptu talks between the two Koreas in the lead-up to the summit. Following the meeting, Moon said Kim had expressed a desire to go ahead with the Trump meeting.

Kim is a former military intelligence chief and now a vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee tasked with inter-Korean relations.

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as USA aggression.

About three weeks later, Albright made a historic reciprocal trip to Pyongyang to try to arrange a North Korea trip by Clinton.

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