This series of talks come after several months of unprecedented worldwide engagement by the isolated North, which started with Winter Olympic participation in South Korea and included a letter offering talks to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Japanese officials, however, would first evaluate the outcome of the expected US-North Korea summit before pushing for the potential ministerial talks, Kyodo and Mainichi said.
Differences between Washington and Pyongyang led Mr. Trump to cancel the summit in a letter to counterpart Kim Jung Un before diplomatic efforts were renewed in the past week.
In anticipation of the meeting, North Korea earlier this month freed three American prisoners and on May 24 appeared to blow up tunnels and other buildings at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the mountainous northeastern part of the country where the regime has conducted six underground tests since 2006. It was not immediately clear who accompanied Kim Yong Chol on the North Korean side.
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Their talks will be aimed at determining whether a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un, originally scheduled for June 12 but later canceled by Trump, can be restored, USA officials have said. "The people of #NorthKorea can have a brighter future and the world can be more peaceful".
While the Central Committee's statement served to cushion possible "psychological unrest" among citizens, it also included phrasing to indicate that the North has not abandoned its nuclear power ambitions, the source said. Shortly afterward, however, the USA president said that he was still open to the meeting with the North Korean leader. Until recently, the North has viewed South Korea and the U.S.as its adversaries. It's the highest-level official North Korean visit to the United States in 18 years.
This is the 5th case of suspected smuggling in violation of United Nations sanctions against North Korea that has been spotted and reported by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
North Korea's flurry of diplomatic activity following a torrid run in nuclear weapons and missile tests in 2017 suggests that Kim Jong Un is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the global legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide. Translated by Leejin Jun.