North Korea says Kim Jong-un will host Syria’s president in Pyongyang

North Korea shakes up military leadership ahead of Trump summit: U.S. official

Jang, previously one of the most powerful men in North Korea, was purged and executed in 2013 after he reportedly built up an alternate power base to his nephew.

USA officials believe there was some dissension in the military about Kim's approaches to South Korea and the United States.

Speaking at a security conference in Singapore ahead of a planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Mattis said it is vital that the worldwide community keeps UN Security Council sanctions in place for now.

While the Syrian President's office is yet to announce the visit, just the suggestion that Mr Assad has asked to visit North Korea will affect the White House efforts to define an agenda for Mr Trump's planned June 12 summit in Singapore with Mr Kim.

"I am going to visit the DPRK and meet".

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed intelligence official, reported that defense chief Pak Yong Sik had been replaced by No Kwang Chol, while Ri Myong Su, chief of the Korean People's Army (KPA) general staff, had been replaced by his deputy, Ri Yong Gil.

Syria and North Korea have maintained close relations for decades.

Madden said the reshuffling at the top of the North Korean military was likely done for a number of reasons, among them preparation for the Kim-Trump talks and future South Korean negotiations and exchanges.

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"Kim Jong Un has chosen a new leadership who reflects his new approach and can more naturally propagate his new policies to bring stability within the military", the professor said.

The Trump administration when initially canceling the summit had cited Pyongyang's refusal to agree to the "unilateral" surrender of its nuclear arsenal.

But North Korea's leadership is believed to regard nuclear weapons as crucial to its survival and has rejected unilaterally disarming.

Trump and Kim are set to meet in Singapore on June 12. That could explain why newly appointed director of the KPA's General Political Bureau, Army General Kim Su Gil, accompanied Mr. Kim Jong Un on a field guidance trip to a beach tourist zone with other officials, Mr.

Lower-level US-North Korean talks to prepare for the summit are continuing but have made only "halting progress", according to a second US official briefed on the discussions.

The comments sought to address concern the United States may be rushing to strike a breakthrough in the unprecedented summit between the two leaders.

However, US Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, affirmed on Sunday at an Asian Security Conference, that sanctions on North Korea would only be relaxed after "verifiable and irreversible steps" toward Pyongyang's denuclearization.

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