Published: Sun, July 08, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pompeo, Japanese counterpart meet on North Korea

Pompeo, Japanese counterpart meet on North Korea

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the U.S. remains "very firm" in its stance that three basic goals be met: complete denuclearisation of North Korea, security assurances, and the repatriation of remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean war.

Hours later, Pyongyang gave a much more negative assessment, saying Washington had broken the spirit of last month's summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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".

But rather than the two leaders crowning years of detailed negotiation with their one-on-one meeting, the short statement marked instead the start of a diplomatic long slog, and Trump earned the scorn of Korea watchers and non-proliferation experts when he declared the crisis over. "I appreciate that and I look forward to our continued conversations today as well".

The United States may not ultimately agree to North Korea's goals, but Wit and others said that talks should continue.

During the visit, Nauert said, the two sides agreed to set up working groups to deal with the "nitty-gritty stuff", including verification of efforts to achieve denuclearization, but there was no indication that the North Korean working group would be empowered by Kim Jong Un, a necessary ingredient for any progress.

Kim agreed that the work was important. Pompeo never definitively said he would not meet with Kim.

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

The North Korean statement, carried by the official KCNA news agency, said the USA had gone against the spirit of the summit by putting unilateral pressure on the country to abandon its nuclear weapons. Suggesting that the United States needed to find a special negotiator to meet continuously with the North Koreans, Wit said that it was "a fantasy to think that this can be done overnight" but that it could be done eventually. Kim Yong Chol delivered that letter by hand and met with Mr. Trump for about two hours.

She wouldn't characterize Friday's discussions beyond saying they addressed denuclearization and the repatriation of American remains, saying, "We expect them to live up to their commitments".

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North Korean officials called Pompeo's visit "deeply regrettable", in a statement, according to The New York Times. "Across the range of weapons and missiles, it's a broad definition of denuclearisation, and the North Koreans understand that and have not challenged that", he said.

He said North Korea understood that denuclearization must be "complete" and 'verified'.

The statement was sure to fuel growing skepticism in the US and elsewhere over how serious Kim is about giving up his nuclear arsenal.

However, the statement also appeared to separate North Korea's annoyance with the US from its relationship with Trump himself.

"President Trump is committed to a brighter future for North Korea", Pompeo was quoted as having said in the pool report.

Both issues are considered essential tests of whether Kim is serious about talks. Talks will also cover the possibility of recovering the remains of USA troops missing from the Korean War.

What did the State Department say?

They were expected to talk all day Saturday before Pompeo heads to Tokyo to brief Washington's Japanese and South Korean allies.

"The US is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset", the statement said, referring to North Korea by its official initials.

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