North Korea

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heads to North Korea to prepare for Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un

Trump discloses Mike Pompeo’s second trip to North Korea during his announcement on Iran deal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 4:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 5:18am

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was en route to North Korea to prepare for the president’s summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump told reporters at around 2:30pm on Tuesday. 

Trump’s disclosure that Pompeo would arrive in the reclusive country “in an hour” came after his announcement that the US would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a multilateral agreement aimed to freezing the Iranian nuclear programme.

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Pompeo’s visit will be his second trip to North Korea since he secretly travelled to Pyongyang and met Kim in early April, a meeting, Trump said later on Twitter, that went “very smoothly” and formed “a good relationship”. 

Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang comes on the heels of a second visit by Kim to China. On Tuesday Kim travelled to Dalian, a northeast coastal city in Liaoning Province, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Trump reiterated on Tuesday that the date and location of his summit meeting with Kim have been set – though neither have yet been officially announced – and said he believed his meeting with Kim would be “a very good success”, helpful to the security of a region that is threatened by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. 

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Trump declined to respond to reporters’ questions in detail about whether Pompeo would raise with Kim the release of three Americans now being held in North Korea. 

“We will find out [whether] the three Americans will be free or not,” Trump said. 

Two were arrested in 2017: Kim Sang-duk, on April 23, and Kim Hak-song, on May 6; the North Korean authorities accused each man of “hostile acts”. 

Little is known about the case of the third, Kim Dong-chul, including why he was detained in 2015, according to US media reports. 

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Trump’s new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told Fox News on Saturday that “there is a good chance” that the three Americans detained in North Korea “will be released over the next several days”.

According to a transcript released by the State Department after Trump’s Iran announcement, Pompeo told reporters on the plane at the Yokota Air Base in Japan during his trip to North Korea that it would be a “great gesture” for Pyongyang to release the American detainees ahead of the Trump-Kim summit. 

He said that the Trump administration had sought the release of these detainees for 17 months. “We’ll talk about it [with the North Korean] again today. I think it’d be a great gesture if they would choose to do so.” 

Pompeo said he was hoping to “nail down”the summit agenda and “put in place a framework for a successful summit between the two presidents”. 

A second goal for the trip, Pompeo said, was to lay out a “set of conditions” of the denuclearisation negotiation between the US and North Korea. He said the US wants to “make sure that we’re square” about what is not on the negotiation table. 

“We’re not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives” of a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation, he said.