North Korea's Kim replaces key diplomats ahead of Trump summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shuffled some of his top advisers and diplomats ahead of next week's meeting with President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE in Vietnam, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The news outlet reported that Kim has swapped out a number of veteran negotiators, including some who served his father and grandfather, with younger counsel.

One of the most notable changes is Kim's appointment of Kim Hyok Chol to lead working-level talks with U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun, Reuters reported. Kim Hyok Chol was expelled as ambassador to Spain in 2017 and has since worked at North Korea's State Affairs Commission, according to the report.


Kim Hyok Chol replaces Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who led talks ahead of Trump and Kim's first meeting last June.

Trump is set to travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, for a summit with Kim on Feb. 27 and 28. 

The president spoke Tuesday morning with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the upcoming meeting with Kim and is expected to speak with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of next week's summit as well.

The meeting comes amid an ongoing push from the U.S. to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, though Trump indicated he would not put a timetable on those negotiations.

"I’d just like to see, ultimately, denuclearization of North Korea," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "I think we will see that, ultimately. I have no pressing time schedule. I think a lot of people would like to see it go very quickly from the other side."