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US refuses to rule out Pompeo meeting with N. Korea

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Tuesday refused to rule out a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart at a regional forum in Singapore later this week.

Pompeo will be visiting the city-state on Friday and Saturday to attend the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, which also involves North Korea.

There is speculation the top US diplomat will meet with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, on the forum's sidelines to continue negotiations on dismantling the regime's nuclear weapons program.


"We will be in some of the same meetings as North Korean government officials," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a regular press briefing. "I certainly can't preclude any interaction taking place, but we have no meetings on the schedule. Nothing is planned."

As the US point man on negotiations with North Korea, Pompeo has traveled to Pyongyang three times and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on two of those trips.

US President Donald Trump held a historic summit with Kim in Singapore last month to push for the denuclearization of the regime, which has posed a growing threat to the US and its allies with its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Kim agreed at the summit to work toward the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the US.

But progress has reportedly been slow to flesh out the details as each side demands concrete steps from the other to demonstrate their commitment to the deal.

The US wants to secure a timeline for North Korea's denuclearization as well as a full declaration of its nuclear arsenal. The North, on the other hand, is seeking a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War in which the US fought alongside South Korea.

The conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides technically at war. (Yonhap)