U.S. secretary of state unconcerned over 'gangster-like' N Korea talks

Frederick Owens
July 10, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo starts his second day in Pyongyang, Saturday, looking to make progress in tense negotiations between the US and North Korea to dismantle the country's nuclear program.

Following his meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterpart Kang Kyung-wha and Taro Kono, Pompeo said while there was progress made on denuclearization, the U.S. and its allies will continue to apply worldwide sanctions until North Korea completely abandons its nuclear arsenal.

His remark came after North Korea expressed harsh criticism after Pompeo and U.S. diplomats wrapped up their meeting with the North Korean counterpart, including Kim Yong-chol, the country's former spy chief and top party official.

His rosy outlook was nearly immediately rejected by North Korea's foreign ministry, which called the USA attitude to the talks "regrettable" and accused the United States of making unilateral demands for denuclearization.

Before Pompeo's visit, US officials had named the missile test engine site that the North Koreans agreed to destroy - a commitment that was also made at the Singapore summit.

But cross-border relations have warmed after South Korean President Moon Jae-in - who has championed dialogue with the isolated North since taking office past year - held a landmark summit with the North's leader Kim Jong Un in April. Trump offered security guarantees to Pyongyang and pledged to suspend the large-scale military drills with South Korea.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday brushed aside North Korea's accusation of "gangster-like" denuclearization demands.

The secretary of state is under pressure to deliver a more concrete disarmament plan after the two leaders signed a vague one and a half page document that didn't provide a timetable for dismantling North Korea's nuclear arsenal. But many nuclear and policy experts say it would take several years to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, if not decades.

The secretary of state acknowledged that "the road ahead will be hard and challenging" and vowed to keep punishing economic sanctions in place "until final fully verified denuclearization" is achieved.

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In a speech on Sunday in Vietnam, Pompeo urged North Korea to follow the example of Vietnam, saying he believed Pyongyang could replicate Hanoi's path to normal relations with Washington and to prosperity.

North Korean officials also described the ongoing negotiations as "gangster-like" demands but Pompeo downplayed the comments and blamed the press for criticizing the progress made so far.

Meanwhile, satellite images posted online by researchers show North Korea continuing to expand a ballistic missile manufacturing site while also upgrading a separate nuclear facility.

After the Singapore summit in June, which also saw the USA promise to end military drills with South Korea, Mr Trump claimed that the North no longer posed a nuclear threat. Pompeo never definitively said he would not meet with Kim.

Unlike his previous two trips to North Korea, which were made before the summit, Pompeo didn't meet with Kim Jong Un. Speaking to Fox News, Graham said that the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China is the major reason for the pushback by Pyongyang.

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

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Graham said: "I see China's hands all over this", adding that there is "no doubt" in his mind that China is "pulling the North Koreans back".

"Director Kim I slept just fine", Secretary Pompeo said. Pompeo spoke with Trump, Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly on Saturday before his second round of meetings with Kim Yong Chol.

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