Kim Yong Chol is the highest-level North Korean official to visit the U.S. in 18 years.
Kim Yong Chol, left, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting, May 31, 2018, in NY.
USA officials have also confirmed that imagery shows technical equipment was removed from the tunnel complex prior to the detonations, indicating the North Koreans were keeping gear for potential reuse.
Who is Kim Yong-chol, the North Korean official representing Kim Jong-un? "Steak, corn, and cheese on the menu".
"Good working dinner with Kim Yong Chol in NY tonight", Pompeo tweeted after the dinner, along with photos of them shaking hands and clinking glasses over the table.
Meanwhile, back in Pyongyang, the North Korean leader re-committed his isolated state to "denuclearization," boosting hopes of what would be an extraordinary diplomatic turn-around just a week after Trump threatened to cancel preparations.
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Trump told reporters he hadn't read the letter yet and added with a smile, "I may be in for a big surprise, folks". I believe they will be coming down to Washington on Friday (Saturday NZT). "It is very important to them".
He added: 'I think they want to do that, I know they want to do that.
If allowing coverage of Kim's arrival was created to send a signal, so too was the decision about who participated for the United States side. It is all a process.
Trump previously cancelled the summit scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, but both sides have since made fresh efforts to hold it as planned.
Still, people familiar with the talks said there was a rift amongst White House officials on whether it's too soon in the negotiation process to talk about ending the Korean War, The Washington Post reported this week.
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"I am confident we are moving in the right direction", Pompeo told reporters at a news conference in NY after meeting Thursday with former North Korean military intelligence chief Kim Yong-chol.
Russian photographer Valery Sharifulin gained exclusive access to the luxurious palace while Moscow's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited the communist state.
"We'll be meeting in June 12 in Singapore", Trump said, after Kim Yong Chol drove away.
"I look forward to the day I can take the sanctions off North Korea", Trump said. But there are lingering doubts on whether he will ever fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival in a region surrounded by enemies.
US officials have expressed optimism that the two sides are making progress toward resolving differences over the summit's agenda and logistical planning. CNN cited unnamed officials who said that they understood that the nature of the letter to be positive.
This morning, Pompeo said in a tweet that the on-again-off-again summit would bring North Korea "a great opportunity to achieve security and economic prosperity".
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This Reuters photo shows Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, arriving at his hotel in NY on May 30, 2018.