North Korea

US Secretary of State Pompeo ‘optimistic’ about progress in denuclearisation talks during upcoming trip to North Korea

‘I’m optimistic that we’ll come away from that with better understandings, deeper progress’, says the US secretary of state about his planned visit to Pyongyang on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 1:07am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 1:24am

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded an upbeat tone on Wednesday as he talked about his upcoming trip to North Korea and the progress he expected to make towards the denuclearisation of the country.

The top US diplomat said his planned visit to Pyongyang on Sunday will be “another chance to continue to advance the commitment” that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made at their historic summit in Singapore in June.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll come away from that with better understandings, deeper progress and a plan forward not only for the [next] summit between the two leaders, but for us to continue the efforts to build out a pathway for denuclearisation,” he said at a news conference.

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He also reiterated that UN sanctions on North Korea should “continue to remain in place” until it denuclearises. However, he declined to comment on recent negative signals from North Korea, including complaints about Washington’s apparent reluctance to agree to a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean war without major concessions.

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Pompeo also brushed aside suggestions of differences between himself and Trump over a timeline for North Korea to ditch a nuclear programme that could threaten the United States.

Pompeo said the day after an unprecedented summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore on June 12 that he was hopeful that there would be major North Korean disarmament by the end of Trump’s current term in January 2021.

In a statement last month, he said the United States aimed for North Korean denuclearisation by that date, but a week later Trump said he did not have a time frame.

Pompeo said the statements were “entirely consistent with each other”.

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“We want it fast, but we’re not going to play the time game,” he said, adding that his reference last month to 2021 was repeating a comment made by the North and South Korean leaders at a summit last month in Pyongyang.

“President Trump’s comments are exactly right. This is a long-term problem; this has been outstanding for decades. We’ve made more progress than has been made in an awfully long time and, importantly, we have done so in conditions which continue to give us the opportunity to achieve the final goal.”