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North Korea official jokes to Pompeo: 'Pay taxes' for visit

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea official jokes to Pompeo: 'Pay taxes' for visit
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second from left, arrived at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport on Friday afternoon. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State/Twitter

July 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's third known visit to North Korea started with a joke from Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party.

Pompeo arrived at Pyongyang's Sunan Airport on Friday afternoon, where Kim and other officials, including Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Kim Chang Son, a senior official at the State Affairs Commission, and others were at the tarmac, ready to greet him and the U.S. delegation, South Korean news service EDaily reported.

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Journalists traveling with Pompeo have been posting updates to Twitter on the latest developments.

ABC News' Tara Palmieri reported Kim Yong Chol told Pompeo he would have to pay taxes for his frequent visits to North Korea.

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"Chol told @SecPompeo, after he joked that if he visits DPRK one more time he'd have to pay taxes: 'The more you come, more trust we can build between one another'," Palmieri tweeted.

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Pompeo's delegation includes State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Alex Wong and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.

Andrew Kim, CIA Korea mission chief, is also in Pyongyang -- it has been reported that he has been working under an alias, and his real name is not confirmed.

Yonhap reported Pompeo and his delegation will be given top treatment and are staying at 100 Flowers Garden, an elite guesthouse where former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has stayed, as has former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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There is also speculation Pompeo could meet with Kim. Pompeo has a letter from President Donald Trump, and according to South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, a copy of an Elton John CD with the song "Rocket Man," a reference to what Trump called Kim during a heated exchange of insults in 2017.

Kim Jong Un and Trump are expected to meet again, Kyodo News reported Friday.

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The Japanese news agency reported North Korea has dispatched officials to Switzerland to explore possible summit venues.

Candidate sites include Davos, Geneva and even Bern, the capital, where Kim spent his school years, according to the report.

The United States is seeking North Korea denuclearization, but the State Department says it is now on the quest for "final, fully verified denuclearization" and not the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.

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