United States Secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Wednesday met North Korean official Kim Yong-chol in New York to discuss the proposed summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump, BBC reported. Kim Yong-chol is the most senior North Korean official to visit the US in almost 20 years.

It was the third meeting between the two officials, after Pompeo’s two trips to Pyongyang in the last two months.

Kim Yong Chol, the former North Korean spy chief, is believed to be responsible for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in 2010 that killed 46 sailors. Kim Yong Chol is currently under US sanctions, and so had to be granted a special waiver to travel to New York, Telegraph reported.

“Looking forward to meeting with Kim Yong Chol in New York to discuss potential summit with Chairman Kim [Jong-un],” Pompeo said ahead of his meeting with the North Korean official. “We are committed to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The international community had welcomed the announcement of a summit between the two leaders after months of hostility over North Korea’s nuclear programme. The two countries decided to hold the summit on June 12 in Singapore, but soon after, North Korea threatened to cancel the meeting following a joint military exercise by the US with South Korea.

Both countries have oscillated over holding the summit. On May 24, Trump called off the summit, blaming Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger” and “open hostility”. This came hours after North Korea announced it had dismantled its nuclear bomb test site in Punngye-ri. A day later, North Korea said it was still open to resolving problems with the US “at any time in any way”.

Trump then said his administration was in talks with North Korea and hinted that the summit may go ahead as planned. Kim Jong-un has also expressed his “fixed will” that the summit should go ahead.