Pompeo travels to North Korea at critical juncture in nuclear talks

Frederick Owens
July 6, 2018

The top US diplomat is under pressure to show progress following the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore where the two sides agreed to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula". "If that's not true, we'll go back to the other way", Trump said aboard Air Force One as he flew to Montana.

-North Korea diplomacy, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set his sights on high bar when he landed in Pyongyang on Friday morning: Specifying North Korea's commitment on denuclearization.

North Korean people watch a basketball game between Prosperity and Peace teams formed with a mixture of North and South Korean women players at a gym in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 4, 2018.

Ahead of the Singapore summit, Pompeo said Trump would reject anything short of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization". During their summit, the USA and North Korean delegations watched a four-minute video, made in the style of a Hollywood trailer, setting out the North's stark choice: conflict with a powerful enemy or a peaceful and prosperous future as America's (denuclearised) partner.

North Korea maintains the issue has been "settled", but Japan does not accept it.

"Nothing has changed in North Korea", Kim said.

It is important that any US negotiations are founded on a "solid understanding of the structure of North Korea's solid-fueled missile program" to avoid being duped by the country's propaganda efforts, Schmerler and Lewis wrote earlier this week on ArmsControlWonk.com.

"Next stop: Pyongyang. I look forward to continuing my meetings with North Korean leaders".

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Officials from Seoul who sat at the podium were Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon; Roh Tae-kang, second vice minister of culture, sports and tourism; Bang Yeul, head of the Korean Basketball Association; and a general director-level official from the Prime Ministers' Office. After the summit, Trump suspended annual military training with South Korea that the North has called an invasion rehearsal.

President Donald Trump is hoping to keep North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un at the negotiating table with the help of Sir Elton John.

Trump and Kim made the vague commitment at the June 12 summit, each signing an agreement that said North Korea would abandon its nuclear program. Schmerler also says that, given the amount of nuclear weapons testing the North has done in recent years, "they don't need to do the testing anymore anyway".

Pompeo is expected to land in Pyongyang at around noon (0300 GMT) after a brief stopover in Japan, according to a pool report by reporters travelling with him.

Pompeo said: "Since the summit the consultations have continued". The officials said they believe Kim may be trying to hide the secret facilities.

Kartman also warns that negotiations with North Koreans that lead to mutual understanding on both sides will take a long time.

Pompeo will begin his visit in Pyongyang over lunch with Kim Yong Chol, a former North Korean spy chief who is now Kim Jong Un's top aide and leading negotiator.

Sources in Washington said the gifts reflect Trump's expectations that Kim will follow through on the pledges in an agreement the two signed at their summit. Trump said after the Singapore summit that Kim had agreed to send remains back to the United States. Pyongyang officials did not say whether Kim Jong-un will show up, according to pool reports.

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