Pompeo shrugs off North Korea’s ‘gangster’ comment, claims progress

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Speaking after meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo, Pompeo said his two days of talks in Pyongyang had been productive and conducted in good faith. But following the stinging commentary from the North, he allowed that the goal of denuclearization would be difficult and that much work remains.

“The road ahead will be difficult and challenging and we know critics will try to minimize what we have achieved,” he said. Two days of talks with senior North Korean officials had “made progress,” he said, and included a “detailed and substantive discussion about the next steps.”

Those include the formation of working group to determine exactly how North Korea’s denuclearization will be verified and a Thursday meeting with Pentagon officials to discuss the return of remains of Americans soldiers killed during the Korean War.

Pompeo sought to dispel suggestions that the Trump administration has backed down from demanding the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North’s nuclear weapons. He said North Korea understood that denuclearization must be “complete” and “verified.”

However, Pompeo said the progress achieved thus far did not warrant any concessions. “While we are encouraged by the progress of these talks, progress alone does not justify the easing of the sanctions regime,” he said.

“Sanctions will remain in place until final fully verified denuclearization as agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong Un has occurred,” he said.

After the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore, President Donald Trump declared the North was no longer a threat and would hand over the remains of American soldiers. Yet three weeks later, the two sides were still divided on all the issues, including exactly what denuclearization means and how it might be verified. And, the promised remains have yet to be delivered.

Just hours after Pompeo arrived in Tokyo, the North blasted the discussions, saying the visit had been “regrettable.”

In a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, the foreign ministry said the outcome of Pompeo’s talks with senior official Kim Yong Chol was “very concerning” because it has led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” it said. “However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable. Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish.”

It said the North had raised the issue of formally ending the Korean War, which concluded with an armistice and not a peace treaty, but the U.S. came up with a variety of “conditions and excuses” to delay a declaration. It downplayed the significance of the United States suspending its military exercises with South Korea, something trumpeted by Trump after the summit as a success, by saying it made a larger concession by blowing up the tunnels at a nuclear test site.



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