Mike Pompeo to meet Kim Jong Un on October 7

Geneva Stokes
October 7, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to North Korea at the weekend for denuclearization talks with the country's leader Kim Jong Un, the State Department said on Tuesday, calling this "forward progress", despite negative signals from Pyongyang.

Pompeo would also travel to Japan, South Korea and China on October 6-8 to brief them about his visit, she added.

Pompeo told reporters that he had just been restating a potential timeline that was discussed at that summit.

President Donald Trump and Kim agreed to denuclearization only in vague terms at their summit in Singapore, the first meeting between leaders of the USA and North Korea.

They held the first-ever summit between a U.S. and a North Korean leader in June.

It isn't clear whether North Korea has made any substantial changes when it comes to denuclearization, but Trump and Pompeo have been telegraphing the possibility of a second summit for several weeks.

Critics have pointed out that the Singapore declaration contained no firm commitments from North Korea to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs and United States officials have expressed frustration at North Korea's evasion of sanctions.

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KCNA said the Yongbyon nuclear facility, which the North expressed a willingness to take offline if the U.S. takes corresponding action, "is a core one for its nuclear programme".

A declaration to end the war should have come half a century ago, after the warring parties signed an armistice agreement, the Korean Central News Agency wrote in a commentary on Tuesday. That left Seoul lobbying hard for a second summit between Trump and Kim to keep alive a positive atmosphere for nuclear diplomacy.

Trump paints rapprochement with North Korea as a signature foreign policy achievement, although critics question whether Pyongyang has taken any firm action. Last month, the Justice Department charged a North Korean hacker said to have conspired in devastating cyberattacks, including an $81 million heist of Bangladesh's central bank and the WannaCry virus that crippled parts of Britain's National Health Service. North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, told the United Nations last week that "there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first". "But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust", he said.

"Without any trust in the USA, there will be no confidence in our national security", Ri Yong Ho said, "and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first". But he added that much work remains to be done and that the sanctions against North Korea will stay in place "until denuclearization occurs".

North Korea's state newspaper Rodong Sinmun called the sanctions "rude" in light of its conciliatory measures.

Even some skeptics, though, acknowledge that the current dialogue has brought rewards in terms of an end to nuclear and missile testing and reduced tensions.

Pompeo had planned to travel to North Korea in August but Trump cancelled the trip at the last moment and publicly acknowledged for the first time that his efforts to get Pyongyang to denuclearize had stalled.

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