North Korea: Talks with Pompeo 'regrettable'

07 July, 2018, 17:08 | Author: Sheila Harris
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) speaks to Kim Yong Chol (foreground), a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, for a second day of talks at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The task of establishing the disarmament program now falls to Pompeo, who is seeking a formal declaration by the North of the size of its nuclear program as well as an eventual timetable for it to be stood down under worldwide verification and inspection.

The talks are part of a broader US initiative to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. "Other places, there's still more work to be done".

Before departing Pyongyang, Pompeo told reporters that his conversations with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol had been "productive", conducted "in good faith" and that "a great deal of progress" had been made in some areas.

Nauert said United States and North Korean officials had set up working groups to deal with "nitty gritty stuff", including verification of efforts to achieve denuclearisation, which would be headed on the USA side by Sung Kim, a Korean-American who is also ambassador to the Philippines.

It is the first time that Mr Pompeo has visited North Korea since Kim Jong-un's summit with US President Donald Trump.

A state department spokesperson said Mr Pompeo had been "very firm" in focusing on denuclearisation, as well as on security assurances and another important USA demand - the return of remains of U.S. service personnel from the Korean War.

The "fastest way" to achieve a nuclear-free Korean peninsula was through a phased approach under which both sides took steps at the same time, KCNA said in a statement citing an unnamed foreign ministry spokesperson.

Before arriving in North Korea, Pompeo said he was seeking to "fill in" some details on North Korea's commitments and maintain the momentum toward implementing the agreement from the summit.

"That process will begin to develop over the days that follow", Pompeo said about the repatriation of remains.

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A Pentagon team would be meeting with North Korean officials around 12 July at the border between North and South Korea to discuss the repatriation of remains, Mr Pompeo told reporters.

It was uncertain whether Pompeo would meet with Kim Jong Un as he did on his previous trips before heading later in the day for Tokyo.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left for North Korea Thursday for a round of diplomatic talks, reportedly carrying with him a letter from President Trump and a CD of Elton John songs, including "Rocket Man", according to the Chosen Ilbo newspaper.

As they began their talks on Saturday, Kim Yong Chol alluded to the fact that Pompeo and his delegation had stayed overnight in Pyongyang.

Kim Yong Chol said at the start of the meeting the two had "very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday".

Pompeo, who spoke with Trump, national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly by secure phone before starting Saturday's session, replied that he "slept just fine".

Pompeo reiterated that Trump was "committed to a brighter future for North Korea".

Pompeo responded: "There are things that I have to clarify as well".

There was no immediate explanation of what needed to be clarified, but the two sides have been struggling to specify what exactly "denuclearization" would entail and how it could be verified to the satisfaction of the United States.

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