The secretary of state said Pyongyang still posed a risk in spite of the president’s previous claim which followed his first meeting with Kim Jong-un. On that occasion Mr Trump tweeted: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience.”
But when asked on CNN’s State of the Union programme on Sunday if he believed North Korea did still pose a nuclear threat, Mr Pompeo said: “Yes.”
He attempted to explain away Mr Trump’s prior claim by suggesting the president had actually said his meeting with Mr Kim last year in Singapore had lowered the risk.
“What he said was that the efforts that had been made in Singapore – this commitment that Chairman Kim made – have substantially taken down the risks to the American people,” Mr Pompeo said. “It’s the mission of the secretary of state and the president of the United States to keep the American people secure. We’re aiming to achieve that.”
Mr Trump is due to hold his second meeting with Mr Kim this week in Vietnam, where senior administration officials have said the two leaders will meet one-on-one and share a meal together.
The president has claimed that negotiators are making strong headway, but there remains significant obstacles. During a call with reporters, senior administration officials said that the two sides had yet to agree on what the term “denuclearisation” means.
“Chairman Kim realises, perhaps better than anyone else, that without nuclear weapons, his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the World. Because of its location and people (and him), it has more potential for rapid growth than any other nation!” Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday morning.
Later in the day, Mr Trump took a shot at opponents who have suggested he will not be able to strike a lasting deal with North Korea, and that the Singapore summit resulted in little tangible differences.
“So funny to watch people who have failed for years, they got NOTHING, telling me how to negotiate with North Korea,” Mr Trump wrote. “But thanks anyway!”
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