Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential National Security Office, traveled to Washington on Thursday at the request of the White House National Security Council, according to an official at the presidential office.
“Chung went to the US at the request of the NSC for closed-door talks about the summit between the US and North Korea,” the official told reporters.
“We did not disclose his trip in advance because Washington asked us not to.”
In his first visit to the US since the inter-Korean summit last week, Chung is expected to discuss with his US counterpart John Bolton steps for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as the venue of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The summit is likely to be held in late May or early June.
Trump said on Monday his administration is considering holding the meeting with Kim at the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea, or in other countries such as Singapore.
Trump also said that the idea of meeting at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjeom, located within the DMZ, was relayed to Pyongyang through Moon.
In response to a question on whether Chung and Bolton will discuss the summit venue, the Cheong Wa Dae official said they are likely to discuss bigger issues such as the North’s denuclearization.
“I think the venue is a relatively small deal,” he said.
“Considering that the US-North Korea summit is the actual round for resolving the North Korean nuclear problem, I personally presume they would talk about bigger deals.”
Chung is also expected to discuss the schedules and the agenda for the summit between Moon and Trump, which is planned for mid-May, ahead of Trump’s meeting with Kim.
Chung and Bolton will meet on Friday to continue discussions of the April 27 inter-Korean summit as well as the upcoming meeting between Trump and Kim, an NSC official was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.
It is Chung’s third confirmed trip to the US since Bolton took office as Trump’s national security adviser in early April. Chung last met with Bolton in Washington on April 24, just days before the inter-Korean summit.
Chung met with Trump in Washington in early March after meeting Kim in Pyongyang to deliver the North Korean leader’s intent to meet with the US president and his willingness to denuclearize.
When reporters asked on Thursday if Chung was traveling to the US, Cheong Wa Dae officials said he took some days off after the morning meeting.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com)