Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Pompeo hopes talks with Kim in Pyongyang will lead to denuclearization

Pompeo hopes talks with Kim in Pyongyang will lead to denuclearization

Three months after his last trip to North Korea, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading back to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong Un and other top officials as the Trump administration seeks some tangible progress on its pursuit of the regime's denuclearization.

Kim and Pompeo met for about two hours, and then had lunch together at the Paekhwawon, or 100 Flowers Garden, a prestigious state guesthouse, for another hour and a half, according to a pool report.

Pompeo and Kim also agreed to form a working group "at an early date" to discuss the denuclearization process and the second summit, which Kim proposed to U.S. President Donald Trump in a letter last month, according to Moon's press secretary Yoon Young-chan.

Kim pledged at his June 12 meeting with Trump in Singapore to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but his actions since have fallen short of Washington's demands for irreversible steps to give up its arsenal.

Absent sanctions relief, North Korea has rejected turning over what Washington really wants in return: a complete inventory of its nuclear and ballistic missile facilities that could be used by worldwide inspectors to verify they have been dismantled.

Later Kim said, "It's a very nice day that promises a good future" for both countries.

North Korea's state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, featured eight photos of the meeting on its front page, including shots of Kim and Pompeo smiling and shaking hands, as well as some with Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong.

Instead, the top US diplomat has been tasked by his boss with preparing for a second summit with Kim Jong Un, which the North Koreans are pushing for, but that analysts warn will hurt USA goals.

In contrast with South Korea, whose President Moon Jae-in has been at the forefront of encouraging Trump's rapprochement with the North, Japan has been decidedly cautious, insisting that its interests and concerns be addressed.

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But that could end if the US agrees to sign a declaration to officially end the Korean War, a major demand on the North Korean side and something Pompeo has been open to. "It was another step forward", Pompeo said in a meeting with Moon at the Blue House. Pompeo will finish his trip in Beijing, and it is still unclear which Chinese counterparts he will meet with there.

"I dearly hope that your latest visit, as well as the upcoming US-North Korea summit, which I hope will be happening soon, will make an irreversible, decisive progress in terms of the denuclearisation as well as the peace process", Moon said. "So this is, I think, a good outcome for all of us", Pompeo said.

Before his talks with the two Korean leaders, Pompeo met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the Japanese government's North Korea policy. "Thanks for hosting me and my team". "We will bring up the issue of the abductees as well and then we will share with you how we hope to proceed when we are in Pyongyang tomorrow".

An official of the State Department was not immediately able to confirm Pompeo's arrival in Pyongyang, from where outside communication can be limited.

After a previous visit to Pyongyang in July, Pompeo had said the two foes made progress on key issues - but within hours of his departure the North condemned "gangster-like" demands from the U.S., raising questions over how much the two sides really saw eye to eye.

Pompeo then planned to return in late August, only for Trump to cancel the trip at the last minute as it became apparent that the two sides remained far apart on their approach to the negotiations. Trump promised North Korea security guarantees and "new" relations.

The United Nation's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), say they are best placed to verify a dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programme.

Also on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he expects Kim to travel to Russian Federation and for Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit North Korea soon amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear crisis.

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