The US secretary of state says he's confident that talks with North Korean officials are moving toward a top-level summit. Mike Pompeo has spent the past two days negotiating with Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol.
After talks with North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol (right in photo) in New York, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) said officials had progressed toward reviving a summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. He added that North Korean officials had not yet committed to denuclearization but he hoped that Kim would keep it in mind ahead of the talks, which could take place in June.
"It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong Un if we are able to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the course for the world," Pompeo said at a press conference on Thursday. "President Trump and I believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those kinds of decisions, and, in the coming weeks and months, we will have the opportunity to test whether this is the case." Pompeo left the meeting with such a positive feeling that he even tweeted about it.
North Korea's weapons technology has advanced in recent years, and Trump has sworn that he will not allow the country to develop nuclear missiles that could threaten the United States. He wants North Korea to get rid of its nuclear arms in return for relief from economic sanctions, but Kim and his inner circle regard nuclear weapons as their only bargaining chip and have rejected unilateral disarmament.
'At some point'
Trump played down the chances of a quick breakthrough in talks with North Korea. En route to the state of Texas aboard the US's presidential jet, Air Force One, Thursday, Trump told the Reuters news agency that he still hoped to hold an unprecedented summit with Kim on June 12 in Singapore, but said he did not expect any binding agreements to necessarily be reached on that day.
"I'd like to see it done in one meeting," Trump told Reuters on Thursday. "But, oftentimes, that's not the way deals work. There's a very good chance that it won't be done in one meeting or two meetings or three meetings. But it'll get done at some point."
By Thursday afternoon, Pompeo expressed optimism that that point was approaching. He said Trump understood the challenges of denuclearization and that US officials would need to gain the trust of their North Korean counterparts in order for that process to advance.
"Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship in which it could be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste," Pompeo said. Things, he added, are "moving in the right direction."
mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)