Syria's Assad says will visit North Korea, news agency reports

Adjust Comment Print

A North Korean official has arrived in NY for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of what the White House says is an "expected" summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

The first head of state to meet Kim Jong-un in the North Korean capital Pyongyang could be Syria's Bashar al-Assad, after North Korean state media announced a visit on Sunday.

"I am sure that he will achieve the final victory and realize the reunification of Korea without fail", Assad said.

Mr Trump earlier told reporters he was expecting the delegation, led by Mr Chol, to travel to Washington to deliver a letter from leader Mr Kim.

Trump said he has more sanctions he's prepared to put on North Korea, but he struck an optimistic tone about the thawing relationship, partially evidenced by the fact that Kim Yong Chol is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the 18 years.

He headed to Washington Friday morning after meeting with Pompeo Thursday in NY.

Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to meet on June 12 to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

However, Trump said it may take more than one meeting with Kim Jong Un to get a deal through.

The letter appeared to be in response to a comment from Trump last Thursday when he canceled the summit, accusing Pyongyang of hostility, but urged the North Korean leader to "call me or write" if he had a change of heart. "I think they're OK", Trump said of relations between the two nations.

Citing two people familiar with the talks, the Post reported earlier that the United States is open to covering the costs, but is considering asking the host country, Singapore, to foot the bill. The President's hand size is something he has previously defended.

No one is saying they're sitting down in the Oval Office yet.

Others wondered, will Trump reciprocate with an equally large letter?

The State Department chief has also established contacts before with North Korea and has made two trips to the repressive regime of Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, at an worldwide security conference in Singapore (the location of the summit) Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that America's troop presence in South Korea is not on the table for discussion.