Secy Of State: Progress Was Made On 'Central Issues' In Pyongyang

Cheryl Sanders
July 8, 2018

Pompeo paid a visit to the DPRK from Thursday to Saturday, weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump met with DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.

As well as progress towards halting North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Pompeo said that the two sides discussed "modalities" for the destruction of a missile engine testing facility, as well as agreeing to hold further talks on the repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War on 12 July.

He noted, however, that "there are things that I have to clarify", Reuters reported.

In comparison to past worldwide nuclear disarmament negotiations, and indeed to most major power diplomacy, the discussions between Washington and North Korea on thawing ties and dismantling the North's arsenal appear to be proceeding in reverse.

On his flight to Pyongyang, Pompeo said both sides made commitments at the Singapore summit on the complete denuclearisation of North Korea and on what a transformed relationship between their two countries might look like.

Opening the talks after the United States envoy arrived on Friday, his opposite number Kim Yong Chol joked to Pompeo that he must be getting used to the city by now.

He said North Korea had confirmed it meant to destroy a missile-engine testing facility and the two sides discussed the "modalities" of what that would look like.

North Korea says it is disappointed with the way the USA has conducted itself in bilateral discussions, saying that the progress made at last month's historic summit in Singapore is in danger of being eroded.

It downplayed the significance of the United States suspending its military exercises with South Korea, something trumpeted by Trump after the summit as a success, by saying it made a larger concession by blowing up the tunnels at a nuclear test site.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter there was a danger military action could be called for because Trump might now claim he had tried diplomacy but was betrayed by Kim.

"The North Koreans are in the game to get, not to give", said Daniel Russel, the top USA diplomat for East Asia until previous year.

But talks were expected to continue at a large guest villa in an official compound in Pyongyang, a short distance from the imposing mausoleum where North Korea's former helmsmen, Kim's grandfather and father, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state.

As Mr. Pompeo departed Pyongyang, he told reporter that the talks achieved progress "on nearly all of the central issues" in the talks, including on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation, though more work remained to be done.

A key aim of Mr Pompeo during his visit was to firm up North Korea's commitment to disarmament.

Mr Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol met for almost three hours on Friday and then had dinner amid growing scepticism over how serious Kim Jong-un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his June 12 summit with Trump into concrete action. Pompeo, however, said more talks were needed on both.

The US and North Korea sharply diverged after two days of talks, with Pyongyang terming the US position on denuclearisation during meetings with Mike Pompeo "extremely regrettable", hours after the secretary of state cited progress on central issues. -North Korea negotiations still have a long way to go.

"Some places, [we've made] a great deal of progress", Pompeo said.

Despite the reports, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told NBC News on Saturday that Pompeo did not deliver a CD from Trump with John's song on it.

Instead, Mr Pompeo spent most of his time in meetings with his counterpart negotiator, Mr Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief who had lightheartedly teased him about his sleep habits. And, he and other USA officials said the two countries, still technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War, had set up working groups to deal with details of an agreement.

Other reports by iNewsToday