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Failure to get NK to begin denuclearization was unfortunate: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Reuters-Yonhap)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Reuters-Yonhap)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a media interview that it was unfortunate that the US failed to get North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to begin the denuclearization process during his term.

The outgoing secretary of state who was deeply involved in US President Donald Trump’s summits with Kim made the remarks when asked by Bloomberg TV on Monday whether he feels there has been progress on North Korea.

“President Trump came in and recognized that one of the great challenges that we faced was the tension between the United States and North Korea. They had a real nuclear capacity when we took office,” Pompeo said.

“Over time, he came to believe that the best path forward was to begin a real conversation with them from the most senior levels.”

Kim made the commitment that he would be part of a process that would denuclearize the Korean Peninsula during his summits with Trump in Singapore and Hanoi, said the secretary, who will step down when US President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

“Unfortunately, we have not achieved that yet. Chairman Kim has not yet made the decision that he is actually prepared to execute that, and so the challenges continue,” he said.

Pompeo said there were “many actions going on” that he could speak more about, and stressed that Trump’s team has convinced Kim not to continue to test his longest-range ballistic missiles that threaten the US and to not continue to develop his nuclear capability by testing a nuclear weapons system.

He also said he was proud that the US had received the remains of about 70 US soldiers who died in North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War.

“I am hopeful that one day, Chairman Kim will come to recognize what President Trump told him repeatedly, is that the North Korean people would be far better off, that they could have a brighter future if they would acknowledge that this nuclear program that they possess is actually the thing that presents risk to the people of North Korea,” Pompeo said.

“It’s not something that deters a threat from the United States, who poses no real threat to the North Korean people.”

When asked about whether he thinks the Russians were responsible for the most recent hacking of US government agencies, Pompeo said the US is constantly under threat from cyberattacks, mentioning such efforts by North Korea, China and Iran.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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