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North Korea nuclear crisis

Mike Pompeo reportedly plans to give Kim Jong-un a ‘Rocket Man’ CD at nuclear talks this week

South Korean newspaper says Donald Trump referred to his ‘rocket man’ nickname for Kim when they met in Singapore – but the North Korean leader said he had never heard of the song

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 July, 2018, 12:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 July, 2018, 1:04pm

When Mike Pompeo meets Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang this week, he will reportedly attempt to smooth a path towards denuclearisation with a gift that playfully references a low point in relations between the North Korean leader and Donald Trump: a CD of Elton John’s Rocket Man.

The US secretary of state, due to arrive in Pyongyang on Friday, will present Kim with the CD along with a letter from Trump, who memorably turned the song’s title into an epithet after the North stepped up its ballistic missile tests last year.

Quoting unnamed sources in Washington, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the gifts reflected Trump’s belief that Kim would follow through on commitments the leaders agreed at their summit in Singapore last month.

Several times last year, Trump referred to the dictator as “ little rocket man”, while Kim reciprocated by labelling the president a “mentally deranged dotard”.

Trump raised the rocket man reference during their meeting, the newspaper said. Kim said he had never heard the song, it added, prompting the president to ask Pompeo to take the CD with him to Pyongyang on what is his third trip to North Korea since April.

The CD is not the first bizarre White House offering to Pyongyang. During their summit, the US and North Korean delegations watched a four-minute video, made in the style of a Hollywood trailer, setting out the North’s stark choice: conflict with a powerful enemy or a peaceful and prosperous future as America’s (denuclearised) partner. The film, a copy of which was given to Kim, casts him and Trump as the architects of a new chapter in world history – “two men, two leaders, one destiny”.

As concerns grow that North Korea is upgrading its nuclear capability, despite agreeing to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Pompeo said he expected the North to “ fill in some details ” outlined in the leaders’ Singapore declaration.

Pompeo said: “Since the summit the consultations have continued. On this trip I’m seeking to fill in some details on these commitments and continue the momentum towards implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world. I expect that [North Korea] is ready to do the same.”

In an earlier tweet Pompeo said Trump believes Kim wants a “different, brighter future” for North Koreans. “I spoke with @POTUS while we were both in the air. The President told me he believes that Chairman Kim sees a different, brighter future for the people of North Korea. We both hope that is true,” he said.

Pompeo was expected to arrive in Pyongyang around midday on Friday.