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US Sec of State to meet top aide to Kim Jong Un on Thursday

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Meeting will discuss progress on Singapore Summit

WASHINGTON US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in New York tomorrow, the State Department said.

The US chief diplomat and Mr Kim Yong Chol "will discuss making progress on all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearisation," a statement said, referring to the June meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The New York meeting comes with the two sides at loggerheads nearly five months after the summit, in which Mr Trump and Mr Kim pledged to work toward denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's foreign ministry has warned that Pyongyang will "seriously" consider reviving its nuclear weapons program unless US sanctions are lifted.

Mr Pompeo said he expected to "make some real progress", including on laying the groundwork for a second summit.

Mr Kim Yong Chol is a general, a former top intelligence chief and right-hand man to the North Korean leader.

He visited the White House in the run-up to the Singapore summit, and has been Pompeo's chief interlocutor since.

Last month, Mr Pompeo invoked the possibility of a second summit.

"We're working on finding dates and times and places that will work for each of the two leaders," Mr Pompeo said then.

In a related development, the top US military officer said on Monday that the US would have to start making changes to its military posture on the Korean peninsula over time if talks with North Korea advance.

"The more successful we are in the diplomatic track, the more uncomfortable we will be in the military space," Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a forum at Duke University.

"Because over time, this negotiation will take a form where we're going to have to start making some changes to the military posture on the peninsula."

General Dunford did not elaborate on what changes might be expected.

In Washington last week, South Korea's defence minister said the two countries would decide by December on major joint military exercises for 2019.

Vigilant Ace, suspended this month, is one of several exercises halted to encourage dialogue with Pyongyang, which has criticised joint US-South Korea exercises in the past.

Although larger exercises were suspended, the two countries have continued small-scale drills.

In recent weeks, North Korea has pressed harder for what it sees as reciprocal concessions by the US and other countries.

Pyongyang is pushing for a formal declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War and replace the armistice that stopped the fighting but left the countries still technically at war.

There are concerns that North Korea's push for such a declaration could be a ploy to divide the US-South Korea alliance and secure the withdrawal of the 28,500 US troops based in the South.- AFP, REUTERS

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