Kim Jong Un complained of "US hegemonism" to Russia's visiting foreign minister, a comment likely to complicate ties with the U.S. as plans proceed for the North Korea leader's expected summit with President Donald Trump next month.
Trump warmly greeted Kim Yong Chol, the vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee, in the Oval Office, where a brief encounter meant for the hand delivery of a personal letter from Kim Jong Un became a longer discussion of areas of disagreement between the two countries.
"We're going to be June 12 - we'll be in Singapore".
Kim's meeting with Lavrov was likely a move to try to secure Russia - along with China - as another powerful player that can push the United States to ease sanctions and make other concessions, said Anthony Rinna, a specialist in Korea-Russia relations at Sino-NK, a website that analyses the region.
Until Kim agrees to denuclearization, Trump added, the US sanctions on North Korea will remain as they are now. He said it "went very well". Meanwhile, discussions between U.S. and North Korean officials continue in Singapore and in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
"We talked about a lot, and we talked about sanctions", Trump said after the meeting. But he said he would not remove current sanctions until the North took steps to denuclearize.
"We're going to deal", Trump told reporters after Kim left. Trump read the letter he delivered from his leader after talking to reporters on the South Lawn, but the White House did not disclose what Kim Jong Un wrote.
China criticizes 'uncooperative' USA policy on visas
The United States will also continue to pursue litigation against China at the World Trade Organization. In response, Beijing vowed to retaliate against U.S. exports to China with a matching value.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Louisville warned Trump to be dispassionate about North Korea. North Korea's conciliatory response to that letter appears to have put the summit back on track. Despite Kim's apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are lingering doubts about whether he will fully relinquish his nuclear weapons, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival.
North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions have been a source of tension for decades, has made advances in missile technology in recent years but Trump has sworn not to allow it to develop nuclear missiles that could hit the United States.
Kim Yong Chol was spotted leaving his hotel in New York City early Friday for the trip to Washington in a convoy of SUVs.
Kim Yong Chol, who delivered the letter to Trump on Friday, also met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Mr. Trump views a summit as a legacy-defining opportunity to make a nuclear deal, but he has left the world guessing since canceling the meeting last week in an open letter to Kim that complained of the North's "tremendous anger and open hostility".
When it comes to paying for lodging at North Korea's preferred 5-star luxury hotel, the United States is open to covering the costs, the two people said, but it's mindful that Pyongyang may view a US payment as insulting.
Kim Yong Chol was allowed into the United States despite being on a USA sanctions list, and granted special permission to travel outside the NY area to meet with the president.