US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the US hopes to see “major disarmament” of North Korea before the end of US President Donald Trump’s first term in 2021.
Speaking the day after a historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Pompeo also said that “complete” denuclearization encompasses “verifiable” and “irreversible” amid criticism over the result of the summit.
“Major disarmament... We‘re hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and half years,” he told reporters in Seoul, adding that there is “a lot of work left to do”.
In a joint statement signed by Trump and Kim at the summit in Singapore on Tuesday, the leaders pledged to work toward “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula without specifying the detailed steps or timeframe of the denuclearization process.
The joint statement stopped short of stipulating the US’ long demands for North Korea to denuclearize in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” manner.
|South Korea's National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong, left, shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Blue House in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)|
“Let me assure you that ’complete‘ encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned. One can’t completely denuclearize without validating, authenticating,” he said.
“But don’t say silly things,” he said. “No, don’t. It’s not productive.”
Touching on the joint South Korea-US military drills, he said that the exercises could be brought back if negotiations with Pyongyang are not productive, defending Trump’s surprise announcement to stop “war games” at his post-summit press conference.
“He (Trump) made it very clear that the condition precedent for the exercises not to proceed was a productive, good faith negotiations being ongoing,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo, who will lead Washington’s follow-un negotiations with Pyongyang, said he expects the US would next speak to North Korean officials “fairly quickly” as early as next week.
The top US diplomat arrived at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday in his first official visit to South Korea since taking office in April.
He made a courtesy call to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to brief him on the outcome of the US-North Korea summit at 9 a.m. before meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese counterpart Taro Kono later in the day.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)