Japan urges caution on any North Korea agreement

Kim Yong Chol on Friday became the highest-level North Korean envoy to visit the White House in two decades and reportedly delivered a personal letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump.

"I look forward to the day when I can take the sanctions off of North Korea", Trump said.

The president told reporters it was a "very nice letter" although he later said he hadn't opened it yet.

"I don't even want to use the term "maximum pressure" anymore", Trump added, referencing his preferred term for the punishing US economic sanctions imposed on North Korea in response to its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

In the latest sign of hostility cooling down but hopes kept in check, Trump said he had unilaterally put a hold on hundreds of new sanctions against the North, without Kim's government even asking.

"It is an ironic and telling deviation from North Korea's insistence on being treated on an 'equal footing, ' " said Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at Council on Foreign Relations. It was after 18 years that a North Korean official met a United States president in the Oval Office.

Song Young-moo said: "Just because we have been tricked by North Korea in the past doesn't guarantee that we will be tricked in the future. And we talked about sanctions", he said.

Pence echoed national security adviser John Bolton, who compared Washington's approach to North Korea to the USA strategy toward Libya, which forfeited its weapons of mass destruction program in 2003, only to be rocked by a 2011 rebellion backed by the US -led NATO Western military alliance.

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He arrived for the meeting accompanied by the senior US officials who have overseen an extraordinary diplomatic opening.

Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee, was allowed into the United States despite being on a USA sanctions list, and North Korean officials are not normally allowed to travel outside the NY area. The two men posed with the very large envelope in the Oval Office. A letter being delivered to me from Kim Jong Un. By the next day, he was signaling the event could be back on after a conciliatory response from North Korea.

Kim Yong Chol was spotted leaving his hotel in New York City early Friday for the trip to Washington in a convoy of SUVs.

North Korea made a similar gesture with its neighbor to the south in February, during the Winter Olympics.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (not pictured) during their summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea, in this handout picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on May 27. "I purposely didn't open the letter", Trump said.

Yet he also said a news conference that hard work remains including hurdles that may appear to be insurmountable as negotiations progress on the US demand for North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

Kim Yong Chol was allowed into the United States despite being on a US sanctions list, and granted special permission to travel outside the NY area to meet with the president.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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