UPDATE : 2018.9.20 THU 12:21
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S. Korean presidential aide secretly visits U.S. ahead of Trump-Kim meeting

South Korea's top national security adviser is currently in the United States for discussions on an upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, an official from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Friday.

Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential National Security Office, headed to Washington on Thursday at the request of the White House National Security Council, the Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The NSC asked for Chung's visit to discuss the North Korea-U.S. summit," the official said, adding the U.S. had asked the South Korean official not to disclose his U.S. trip.

"It is not clear whether he will visit the White House," the official said.

The White House did not respond to a Yonhap request for confirmation of Chung's visit.

The visit comes ahead of the summit between the U.S. and North Korean leaders, likely to be held in late May or early June.

The summit will be closely watched after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed in their own meeting last week to pursue the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump has said he will be going into the negotiations aiming to get rid of the regime's nuclear weapons.

An announcement on the date and location of the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit is expected to come in the next few days after Trump hinted at the possibility of meeting Kim in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas.

Chung traveled to Washington in early March after meeting Kim in Pyongyang to convey the North Korean leader's wish to meet with Trump and his willingness to discuss the denuclearization of the regime.

Trump and Kim exchanged threats and personal insults last year as North Korea tested its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The South Korean official is in Washington for his third known visit since Bolton took office last month.

kim sua  edt@koreapost.com

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