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Kim Jong Un aide arrives in Vietnam ahead of N. Korea-U.S. summit

Kim Chang Son, a senior official of North Korea's State Affairs Commission, known as a close aide to the country's leader Kim Jong Un, arrives at Beijing's international airport on Feb. 15, 2019. (Kyodo)

HANOI (Kyodo) -- A top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Hanoi on Saturday with less than two weeks to go until the second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, according to diplomatic sources.

Kim Chang Son, chief secretary of the North Korean Secretariat of the State Affairs Commission, is expected to discuss protocol and security matters with the Vietnamese government and the U.S. side for the Feb. 27-28 summit in the Vietnamese capital.

After arriving in the morning with around 12 other officials he headed to the Vietnamese government's guest house for a meeting with senior Vietnamese officials who recently visited North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported. Afterward, he inspected hotels in the city.

Kim Jong Un will arrive in Vietnam on Feb. 25 and meet with the country's top leader Nguyen Phu Trong later the same day, Reuters reported Saturday, citing three sources with knowledge of the North Korea leader's schedule.

The North Korean leader will also tour sites in northern Vietnam ahead of his summit with Trump, according to the report.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh visited Pyongyang this week at the invitation of his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho.

According to Yonhap, Minh was accompanied by five government officials, including the ministry's protocol chief, indicating that the purpose of the trip was to lay the groundwork for a state visit by Kim Jong Un.

The U.S. special representative to North Korea and his Pyongyang counterpart, who met in Pyongyang earlier this month, are expected to hold another round of working-level discussions in a third country before the summit.

In an interview with the CBS News on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "We have a team leaving again this weekend to travel to Asia to continue to prepare for the summit. I'm not going to talk about what it is we hope to achieve, but I'm very hopeful that we'll get a good outcome."

Prior to the first U.S.-North Korea summit held last June in Singapore, Kim Chang Son, sometimes called the chief butler to the family of Kim Jong Un, arrived in the city-state to lead pre-summit talks with the U.S. delegation.

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