Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed there is “a shared understanding” between the US and North Korea about what they hope to achieve in the forthcoming summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Speaking days after he helped bring back to the US three Korean-Americans who had been detained by the North Korean regime on charges of spying, Mr Pompeo said he had “good” and “warm” conversations with Mr Kim about the future of the Korean peninsula, in preparation for the talks.
At a joint press conference in Washington with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, Mr Pompeo, who has probably had more conversations with Mr Kim than any other western official, was asked if they had discussed getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
“We have quite a conversation about it. I’m not going to share it here,” he said. “[But] I’m convinced that we have a shared understanding of what the leaders want.”
He added: “We have a shared vision of what the Korean peninsula looks like after this process is completed.”
Mr Pompeo said North Korea’s complete denuclearisation, which is being sought by the US and South Korea, along with much of world, will require “robust verification”. Ms Kang said sanctions against North Korea would not be lifted before a June 12 summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Singapore.
“We are very clear that sanctions remain in place until and unless we see visible, meaningful action taken by North Korea on the denuclearisation track,” she said.
Mr Pompeo, whose secret meeting with Mr Kim over the Easter weekend was when it was agreed Mr Trump would meet with the North Korean leader, also offered economic help to the country if its gives up its nuclear weapons.
“If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearise, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends,” he said.
Ms Kang praised the upcoming meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Kim as an “historic” opportunity, but added a few notes of skepticism as well, the Associated Press reported.
Amid concerns that North Korea will demand the US withdraw its troops from neighbouring South Korea, Ms Kang emphasised that the US military presence there must be “a matter for the US-ROK alliance first and foremost”, she said, using an acronym for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.
Just six months ago, the US and North Korea were exchanging aggressive rhetoric and threats. A breakthrough appears to have occurred against the backdrop of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, at which the South Korean hosts went out their way to offer the olive branch to their northern neighbour.
Some analysts believe Mr Kim has been prepared to negotiate with the US now, because of his speeded-up testing of his weapons programme has made his nation a de facto nuclear armed country.
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