US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had a “very positive” meeting with North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday and will travel to Pyongyang again next month to prepare for a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pompeo said on Twitter his meeting with Ri in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly was to discuss the summit and “next steps toward denuclearisation of #NorthKorea.”
“Much work remains, but we will continue to move forward,” he said afterwards.
The State Department said Pompeo accepted an invitation from Kim to travel to Pyongyang next month, for what will be his fourth visit this year.
Referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it said the aim would be “to make further progress on the implementation of the commitments from the US-DPRK Singapore summit, including the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK, and to prepare for a second summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim.”
Trump held an unprecedented first summit with Kim in Singapore on June 12 that yielded a broad pledge by Kim to “work toward” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Kim’s commitments and actions, however, have fallen far short of Washington’s demands for a complete inventory of North Korea’s weapons programs and irreversible steps to give up a nuclear arsenal that potentially threatens the United States.
Trump said on Wednesday the United States and North Korea had “a wonderful relationship going” and he would announce the timing and location of his next meeting with Kim in the “very near future.”
Pompeo told “CBS This Morning” earlier that US officials were “working diligently to make sure we get the conditions right” for a second summit. He said any future summit could happen in October, but more likely after that.
Trump, asked as he entered the United Nations what North Korea had to do before his next meeting with Kim, said the two had made “a tremendous amount of progress” since last year, and added: “They’re denuclearizing North Korea. We have a wonderful relationship going between our country and them.”
His remarks on North Korea this year have been dramatically different from those in his speech last year at the UN assembly, when he threatened to “totally destroy” the country and mocked Kim as “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission”.
In his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump praised Kim for his courage in taking steps to disarm, but said much work still had to be done and sanctions must remain in place on North Korea until it denuclearizes.
On Wednesday, he told the UN Security Council that many positive things were happening behind the scenes on North Korea, “away from the media.”
“So I think you will have some very good news coming from North Korea in the coming months and years.”
Trump said Kim had reaffirmed his commitment to complete denuclearization to him directly in a “very strong letter form.”
“I think we will make a deal,” he said.
“But unfortunately to ensure this progress continues, we must enforce existing U.N. Security Council resolutions until denuclearization occurs,” Trump said, while complaining that some nations were violating U.N. sanctions.
Asked by CBS if Kim had agreed to allow international inspectors into nuclear sites, Pompeo said, “Yes,” while adding that verification was important in any nuclear agreement.
“We’ve talked about this verification from the beginning,” he told CBS. “We’re not going to buy a pig in a poke. We’re going to get this right. We’re going to deliver on this commitment (to denuclearise) that Chairman Kim has made to the world.”
Pompeo after his last visit to Pyongyang in July said progress had been made, only for North Korea within hours to denounce him for making “gangster-like demands.”