Kim Yong Chol, head of North Korea’s United Front Department who had a three-day trip to the United States last week, “met unannounced with the CIA’s deputy director Vaughn Bishop” in Washington on Friday (local time), Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Monday. It is speculated that the two countries’ spies held secret talks during Kim’s stay.
In an article titled “U.S. and North Korean Spies Have Held Secret Talks for a Decade,” the newspaper said that “Years of covert contacts with America’s bitter adversary helped pave the way for President Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un.” WSJ also reported that the secret intelligence talks that U.S. officials sometimes called the “goon channel” began in 2009 during the Obama administration.
According to the article, the Trump administration has found North Korean interlocutors “distasteful but important in deciding security matters.” “They (the U.S. and North Korea) have long exchanged messages through the North Korean U.N mission in New York. Some U.S. officials have viewed that channel’s usefulness as limited, saying its primary purpose has been to pass messages to North Korea’s less influential foreign-affairs ministry.”
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