February 19, 2019 | 11:44 am GMT+7

N.Korean envoy en route to Hanoi ahead of Trump-Kim summit: Yonhap

N.Korean envoy en route to Hanoi ahead of Trump-Kim summit: Yonhap
The Hanoi summit will be the second time Donald Trump meets Kim Jong-un. Photo by AFP

The North Korean special representative for the U.S. arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, apparently en route to Vietnam to meet his Washington counterpart.

Kim Hyok Chol arrived in the Chinese capital at around 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) and was expected to board a plane bound for Hanoi later in the day, ahead of a second scheduled summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

Kim's trip comes three days after Kim Jong-un's de-facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, landed in Hanoi to discuss protocol and security matters with the U.S. team ahead of the summit on February 27-28.

Kim Hyok Chol and his U.S. counterpart Stephen Biegun were engaged in three days of talks in Pyongyang earlier this month, exploring each side's positions on denuclearisation ahead of the much-anticipated meeting.

Biegun said they had been productive, but more dialogue was needed.

"We have some hard work to do with the DPRK between now and then," Biegun said, adding that he was "confident that if both sides stay committed we can make real progress here."

The U.S. State Department said talks during Biegun's trip explored Trump and Kim Jong-un's "commitments of complete denuclearization, transforming U.S.-DPRK relations and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula."

Specifically, discussions on declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War could have been on the table, with Biegun last month saying Trump was "ready to end this war."

The U.S. envoy is expected to fly soon to Hanoi from Washington to resume talks with Kim Hyok Chol.

Experts say tangible progress on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons will be needed for the second summit if it is to avoid being dismissed as "reality TV."

AFP