Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pompeo insists North Korea talks 'very productive'

North Korea's Foreign Ministry called talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "regrettable" after his visit this week to Pyongyang and accused the U.S. of making unilateral demands for denuclearization.

"Our expectation is exactly what the President and Kim Jong-un jointly agreed to in Singapore, and that is the denuclearisation of North Korea", Ms Nauert said.

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

But Pompeo on Saturday did not directly answer some questions from reporters about how that process is going, after NBC News reported that North Korea is expanding some nuclear test sites.

Giving little in the way of fresh information, he said they had discussed at length a timeline for the North's nuclear disarmament, including the destruction of a missile engine testing facility. "Some places a great deal of progress, other places there's still more work to be done", he said.

"We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it's the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearisation of North Korea", he said.

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

Kim Yong Chol later said that "there are things that I have to clarify" to which Mr Pompeo responded that "there are things that I have to clarify as well".

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs during which he has met with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo spent the night at a government guesthouse in Pyongyang and did not see the North Korean leader, although USA officials had suggested such a meeting was expected.

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Chosun Ilbo's report was widely shared - perhaps in part because it suggested a light-hearted side to tense denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea.

On his flight to Pyongyang, Mr 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. Spokesperson Heather Nauert did say that Pompeo left a letter from Trump to Kim, but denied reports that he had also taken a CD of Elton John's "Rocket Man" with him.

Last month, Kim and Trump met in Singapore and signed an historic joint statement committing Pyongyang to "work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in exchange for United States "security guarantees" and lasting peace in the decades-old stand-off.

"The more we meet, the deeper our friendship will be, I hope", he said, adding: "Today's meeting is really meaningful meeting".

She said US national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly were also on Pompeo's earlier briefing call with Trump.

Pompeo reiterated that Trump was "committed to a brighter future for North Korea". Pompeo's trip aimed to secure the details of Kim's promise of denuclearization.

U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters before the latest talks Pompeo would try to agree on at least an initial list of nuclear sites and an inventory that could be checked against available intelligence.

Nauert said "progress was made" in the meetings Saturday morning, and Pompeo was expected to have more meetings in the afternoon.

Some US officials and experts have said the change in language amounted to a softening in approach. The State Department said its policy remains unchanged. He is due to meet officials from allies South Korea and Japan in Tokyo on Sunday.

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