US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un agreed to hold the second US-North Korea summit “as soon as possible”, South Korea’s presidential office said.
Hours after meeting with Kim in Pyongyang in the afternoon, Pompeo told President Moon Jae-in that Washington and Pyongyang will establish working-level negotiation teams to determine the timing and location of the summit, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
Speaking to reporters on his way to Pyongyang, Pompeo expressed hope that the two countries would agree on a “general date and location” of the summit that follows the first meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.
“Secretary Pompeo said he agreed with Kim to hold the second US-North Korea summit as soon as possible,” Yoon Young-chan, the senior secretary to President Moon for public relations, said in a press briefing held after a meeting between Moon and Pompeo.
North Korea`s leader Kim Jong-un(left)walks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his trip to Pyongyang Sunday. Yonhap
During his meeting with Moon, Pompeo expressed satisfaction over his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying he had a “good trip.” But Pompeo refused to reveal the details and said it will be only shared with President Moon.
Cheong Wa Dae said that Pompeo told Moon that had talks with Kim over denuclearization negotiations, including what measures the North Korean leader would take for giving up its nuclear arsenal in a verifiable way -- such US government’s inspection of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.
The top US diplomat added that there was also discussion between him and Kim about “corresponding measures” to be taken by the US as a reward for North Korea’s denuclearization measures.
“I will certainly tell you in private about our conversation, but we had a good, productive conversation,” Pompeo said. “As President Trump has said, there are many steps along the way and we took one of those today; it was another step forward.”
“What we all hope will be the denuclearization and the change in the relationship here on the peninsula… I’m confident together we can achieve the outcome that the world so desperately needs.”
President Moon expressed hope that Pompeo’s trip would serve as an opportunity to make “decisive progress” on achieving the goals of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishing a peace regime.
The top US diplomat touched down at Osan Air Base around 5:15 p.m. after wrapping up his visit to Pyongyang. He then had a closed door 40-minute meeting with Moon. He then held a working dinner meeting with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
Pompeo and Kim held a two-hour meeting followed by a 90-minute luncheon hosted by Kim. After leaving Pyongyang, Pompeo tweeted a photo of himself walking down a hall alongside Kim and his entourage, and said he would continue to make progress on denuclearization talks.
“Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim,” Pompeo said, adding that he and Kim pledged to make progress on agreements made at the Singapore summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
North Korea’s leader Kim also struck a positive tone during his meeting with Pompeo. “It’s a very nice day that promises a good future for both countries,” Kim said through an interpreter at the dining table.
An American official who accompanied Pompeo said Sunday that the trip was “better than the last time,” referring to the secretary’s trip there in July, according to a pool report. But the official, who was not identified, added, “It’s going to a long haul.”
Pompeo came to Seoul as part of his trip to East Asian countries. He visited Japan on Saturday and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, before heading for Pyongyang on Sunday. He is expected to leave for China on Tuesday.
His trip to the two Koreas came amid hopes that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could meet again and strike a deal to break the stalemate in denuclearization talks since their first summit in Singapore in June.
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo. Yonhap
“Each side has to develop sufficient trust so they can take the actions necessary to get to the end,” Pompeo said. “So we hope to, at least -- I doubt we will get it nailed -- but begin to develop options for both location and timing for when Chairman Kim will meet with the president again.”
Since Trump and Kim agreed at the Singapore summit to work toward “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and to establish a “new relationship,” Pyongyang and Washington have wrangled over what these terms mean and how to achieve them.
Pyongyang and Washington have clashed over the sequence of denuclearization measures and corresponding compensation -- a repeat of past nuclear negotiations between the two countries.
While the US demands North Korea submit a detailed inventory of its nuclear and missile programs, Pyongyang insists that Washington first provide a security guarantee by declaring an official end to the Korean War before a possible peace treaty is signed.
Until recently, Pyongyang has appeared to be increasing its demands. Through its top diplomat and state-controlled newspapers, North Korea said that the easing of economic sanctions is necessary for talks to move forward.
“Despite its promise to improve (the) relationship at the Singapore summit, (the US) intends to maintain sanctions,” the North’s Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary published Thursday. “It is such an oxymoronic, two-faced behavior.’
Given the two countries’ persistent standoff, South Korea has suggested a different approach, in which the US holds off on its demand for an inventory of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and accept the verified closure of a key North Korean nuclear facility as a next step in the negotiations.
In an interview with the Washington Post last week, Foreign Minister Kang said that North Korea could dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility in a verifiable manner and the US would agree to sign an end-of-the-war declaration.
Kang said such steps would serve to dispel mistrust between Pyongyang and Washington and speed up negotiations by avoiding the risk of bogging it down over the verification process.
“Past experience shows that the list and the verification about the list takes a lot of back-and-forth, and I think the last time things broke down precisely as we were working out a detailed protocol on verification after we had gotten the list,” she said.
By Yeo Jun-suk(firstname.lastname@example.org