North Korean official Kim Yong Chol has arrived in New York for talks with the US Secretary of State.
The former spy chief has travelled to America to meet with Mike Pompeo ahead of the potential meeting between the leaders of the two countries next month.
The White House has said the meeting on 12 June in Singapore is “expected” to take place still, despite some jitters.
US officials have said early meetings preparing for the America-North Korea summit have been positive.
Kim Yong Chol is the highest-level representative from North Korea to set foot in the United States since 2000.
The official, who is due to meet with Mr Pompeo on Wednesday and Thursday, arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport on a flight from Beijing. He was later seen entering a hotel in midtown Manhattan.
“The US delegation led by Ambassador Sung Kim met with North Korean officials today as well and their talks will
continue. So far the readouts from these meetings have been positive and we’ll continue to move forward in them,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“We’re going to continue to shoot for the June 12th and expect to do that,” she said, referring to the original date scheduled for the summit.
Mr Trump last week called off the summit after North Korea expressed anger at comments by US officials.
But the President later said he was reconsidering his position and US, North Korean and South Korean officials have gone ahead with summit preparations anyway.
Meanwhile, the outgoing head of US Pacific Command, who is Mr Trump’s pick to be the ambassador to South Korea, said on Wednesday that North Korea remained the United States’ most imminent threat.
“North Korea remains our most imminent threat. And a nuclear-capable North Korea with missiles that can reach the
United States is unacceptable,” Admiral Harry Harris said in a change-of-command speech.