U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on Saturday that the two days of talks with his North Korean counterpart on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal had been “very productive”.
But, briefing reporters before flying on to Tokyo, he offered few new details as to how North Korea would honour its commitment to “denuclearise” in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.
“These are complicated issues, but we made progress on almost all of the central issues, some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo was speaking after emerging from more than eight hours of talks over two days with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man Kim Yong-chol in a Pyongyang diplomatic compound. North Korea, however, slammed the U.S. for making “rapacious” demands during the talks.
The North’s Foreign Ministry said the “extremely regrettable” U.S. attitude during the meeting violated the spirit of the agreement reached between Mr. Kim and President Donald Trump last month at their historic summit in Singapore.
“The U.S. attitude and positions at the high-level talks on Friday and Saturday were extremely regrettable,” the Ministry said in a statement, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
The North’s statement said officials had presented Mr. Pompeo with a personal letter to Mr. Trump to convey hopes that the “magnificent relations and feelings of trust” between the two leaders would be reinforced in further talks.
Last month, Mr. Kim had agreed to “work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” in return for security guarantees and an end to a dangerous stand-off with U.S. forces.
Mr. Trump hailed this as a successful resolution of the crisis, but the short joint statement was not a detailed roadmap to disarmament and it fell to Mr. Pompeo to follow up and put meat on the bones of the sparse commitment.
“We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it’s the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearisation of North Korea,” Mr. Pompeo said.
“Chairman Kim is still committed, I had a chance to speak to President Trump this morning. I know my counterpart spoke with Chairman Kim during the course of our negotiations as well.” In practical terms, however, he only mentioned that officials from both sides would meet on July 12 as a working group to discuss the repatriation of the remains of some U.S. soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War.
And he said some progress had been made towards agreeing “the modalities” of North Korea’s destruction of a missile facility.
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