Pompeo, North Koreans talk trust in first meetings since Singapore summit

Hannah Rogers
July 7, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began his first trip to Pyongyang since US President Donald Trump's summit with leader Kim Jong Un last month with a vow to nail down the specifics of the commitments Kim made on denuclearization.

It was unclear whether Cho would meet with Kim or Pompeo, the unification ministry said.

The first time Trump called Kim "Rocket Man" was during an address to the UN General Assembly on September 19, 2017, when he warned against North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"The more you come, more trust we can build between one another", Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's former spy chief and Pompeo's primary interlocutor for nuclear negotiations, told the USA team at the top of their meeting while reporters were allowed in.

Trump and Kim's historic summit produced a handshake and a signed agreement between the two countries but offered little specifics for how the North would go along with the "complete denuclearization" goal the us has set.

Mr Pompeo would try to agree on at least an initial list of nuclear sites and an inventory that could be checked against the available intelligence, United States intelligence officials told Reuters.

Pompeo is expected to discuss the return of the remains of USA soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.

He will remain in North Korea until Saturday to "continue consultations and implement the forward progress made Trump and Chairman Kim in Singapore", the State Department said.

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Both issues are considered essential tests of whether Mr Kim is serious about negotiations. Morell said Pompeo is testing whether Kim is lying about his commitment "to work toward complete denuclearization." "Kim mentioned that Trump referred to him as "rocket man" when tensions ran high last year" after a series of nuclear tests and missile launches by the North. "Trump then asked Kim if he knew the song and Kim said no".

"When are they going to hand us that piece of paper?"

Sources close to the Trump administration have said on background that Mr. Pompeo's immediate goal is to try and nail down a date for the coming weeks or months by which the North Korean leader must publicly declare of his nation's nuclear production facilities, weapons and nuclear-capable missiles.

A marching band performs during a South and North Korean friendly basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Ahead of the summit, Pompeo said Trump would reject anything short of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation".

A day after the summit, Trump announced that the USA was canceling joint military exercises with South Korea that the North has traditionally called practice for an invasion. "Contrary to our military's suspension of joint Korea-U.S. military exercises, North Korea is conducting military exercises on a scale similar to previous years". While U.S. officials have said Mr. Pompeo intends to meet directly with Mr. Kim, it was not clear Friday when or whether the meeting will occur.

Pompeo's talk will be closely watched in the region.

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