Kim Jong Un consolidates power as North Korea shuffles leadership

South Korean President Moon Jae-in left and President Trump meet at the White House on May 22

In the parliamentary meeting, North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam, was replaced by Choe Ryong-hae.

The South Korean president's intense trip follows the failure of the summit in Vietnam six weeks ago between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

China's Xinhua News Agency reported that in his message, Xi said that Kim's re-election demonstrated the "trust and support" for the leader from the North's ruling Workers' Party and its people. Indeed, the USA leader reportedly asked Moon to "contact" North Korea, likely via inter-Korean summit talks, and to let him know of Pyongyang's current stance on negotiations.

Although sanctions have undoubtedly made it more hard for Kim to deliver on his public pledge to provide economic development for the people of North Korea, few experts believe he will cave in to external pressure to surrender his nuclear arsenal.

Kim was elected as Chairman first in June 2016, when the commission was formulated through an amendment in the country's constitution.

According to ANI news reports, the United States president, flanked by Moon Jae-in, South Korean president and first ladies of both the nations, said, "We have recently completed a new and very, very large trade deal with South Korea and it will very much increase trade both ways".

"In this sense, I believe the Hanoi summit was not a source of disappointment", Moon said, adding: "But it is actually part of a bigger process that will lead us to a bigger agreement".

Trump, the release added, also reiterated that he has a very good relationship with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un and that "the door remains open to dialogue".

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Born in 1950, Choe is considered Kim Jong Un's right-hand man - frequently referred to as the regime's "virtual number two official".

On Wednesday in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered some wiggle room in the USA government's long-standing insistence that sanctions on North Korea will only be lifted once the country fully denuclearizes.

Trump will give Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook the red-carpet treatment at the White House before talks in the Oval Office.

Trump continues to face criticism that he is out of his depth in talks with Kim and that sitting down with the dictator has yet to bring many benefits.

"I think keeping sanctions in place sets real limits on the trajectory of North-South reconciliation, leaving reopening Kaesong Industrial Zone and Mount Kumgang tourist project off the table for now", said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Kim, a 76-year-old veteran diplomat involved in negotiations with the USA, was excluded from the list of the parliamentary foreign affairs commission, spawning speculation that he might retire from work due to age and health issues.

There is little known about Pak's replacement, Kim Jae Ryong, who has been serving as a party leader in Jagang Province, a mountainous area home to some munitions factories.

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