The planned talks are being organized by Donald S. Zagoria of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, who served as a consultant on Asia during the Carter administration and has organized previous rounds of such talks. Zagoria declined to comment on the preparations.
The talks would be run independently of the State Department, where officials have privately questioned the utility of such discussions. But if the administration issued the visas, it would be an implicit seal of approval. And if the discussions go well, they could pave the way for official talks.
Zagoria, who works at NCAFP, used to work at RAND Corporation, a think tank deeply connected to the US governemnt. His biography also notes that he is "actively involved" with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York.
Update: The talks have reportedly been cancelled.