Who are the key players from the US and North Korea in the Trump-Kim summit?
Chris McGrath/Getty Images(SUNTEC CITY, Singapore) — The stars of Tuesday’s highly-anticipated summit are undoubtedly President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But behind the scenes, U.S. and North Korean officials have raced to prepare for success in Singapore.
Here is a look at the key players on both sides:
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State
He visited North Korea over the Easter weekend while still in his role as CIA director, meeting with Kim Jong Un to begin planning the summit. Then, last month, he returned to the country for another meeting with Kim as Trump’s new secretary of state. Pompeo also met with Kim’s senior adviser Kim Yong Chol in New York and Washington, D.C.
John Kelly, chief of staff
He greeted Kim Yong Chol during his visit to the White House last month and was one of four Americans in the meeting. (The others were Trump, Pompeo, and a translator.)
John Bolton, National Security Adviser
Widely-known as a hawk on North Korea, his comments comparing negotiations with to the “Libya model” angered North Korean officials, as well as Trump, nearly derailing the summit.
Sung Kim, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines
A U.S. ambassador to South Korea during the Obama administration, he led the advance talks with North Korea in the border village of Panmunjom. He’s been a veteran diplomat on the issue of North Korea for over a decade.
Matt Pottinger, National Security Council Senior Director for Asia
A former journalist and U.S. Marine, he accompanied Pompeo on his trip to North Korea in May in advance of the summit. He implied to White House reporters last month during a background briefing that reinstating the summit after Trump canceled it would have been nearly impossible. Trump later accused the New York Times of quoting a senior White House official “who doesn’t exist.”
The North Koreans
Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister
She came into the global spotlight earlier this year as she attended the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, leading the North Korean delegation at the games. She acts as her older brother’s assistant at times, having hand-delivered a letter from him to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea
He met with Pompeo in New York last month before heading to the White House to hand-deliver a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump. That day, he and the president ended up meeting for over an hour. Kim Yong Chol has been a presence behind the scenes as well, sitting in on every inter-Korean meeting held in the lead up to the summit. He was a former spy chief, reportedly behind assassination attempts in South Korea, the sinking of a South Korean navy ship, and the Sony hack.
Kim Chang Son, effectively chief of staff
He was one of the team members tasked with making sure that everything was in place for the upcoming summit and led the advance delegation team that met with their American counterparts in Singapore this past week.
Choe Son Hui, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
She has reportedly acted as a lead negotiator in advance meetings with the American team ahead of the summit, perhaps because of her experience as a nuclear negotiator in the past. Choe Son Hui had a brush with the spotlight a few weeks ago after drafting the statement calling Vice President Pence “ignorant and stupid.” Trump would later cite the statement as his reason for canceling the summit last month.
Kim Kye Gwan, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
A chief nuclear strategist for decades, he authored the letter responding to Trump’s decision to cancel the summit, saying North Korea was still willing “to sit down face-to-face with the U.S. and resolve issues anytime and in any format.”
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