It is important that U.S. officials accept meetings with North Korean representative Kim Yong Choi despite his actions as chief of his country's intelligence agency, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday.
"He is both knowledgeable and authoritative," Hayden told CNN's "New Day" about Kim, the vice president of the North Korean Workers' Party Central Committee, who is on his way to New York to get the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un back on track.
"He comes here with the writ of the president of North Korea, and this is the person, the individual, that is worth talking to, to try to hammer out some common ground, if it exists," Hayden added.
Trump confirmed in a tweet early Tuesday that the the North Korean official, who has been described as Kim Jong Un's right-hand man, is on his way to the United States.
He is a constant presence at all high-level meetings, but has also been accused by South Korea of sinking its Navy ship and was allegedly behind the 2014 Sony hack, carried out in retribution for the movie "The Interview," noted show co-host Alisyn Camerota.
"That's all probably true, and probably a lot more we don't know because for periods in the past under this leader of North Korea, they have been very aggressive against us and against the south," said Hayden. "The good news, and what you have to put that aside in this kind of business, you have to greet him, sit down and talk with him."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met the North Korean vice president, said Hayden, and he thinks Pompeo would be a "very good choice" to meet with him again in New York, since he's already accomplished some dialogue with the North Korean leadership."
The problem is, though, for North Korea, "this is all about thinking about denuclearizing at the end of a very long process over here that changes the strategic equation in northeast Asia," said Hayden.
"For us, it's complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization now. And now the question becomes, can we find some sort of common ground, even some sort of common language, that the two presidents can use at the Singapore summit? And I think that's the heart of the discussion between the two leaders."
Hayden said that with all the action, including the U.S. delegation heading to Singapore an an upcoming meeting planned with Japanese President Shinzo Abe, it does seem that the summit is now being "fast-tracked" for June 12, aven through Trump had indicated he was willing to pull out of it.
He also said he thinks the meeting will happen, and "more rather than less likely" on June 12.
"You already suggested in your coverage this morning, you've got meetings in Singapore over logistics, meeting in the demilitarized zone over substance and now you have this very high level meeting here," said Hayden.
"Frankly, for me we've been very skeptical, this is all very heartening that there may be some there there when the two presidents meet," he continued. "Now, look, we need to dampen our expectations to have realistic expectations about what's going to happen here. But even if we set up a clock, a timetable, an agenda, an arc that moves us forward towards a more stable peninsula, this will have been good news."
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