Pompeo seeks clarity in denuclearization talks with NKorea

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic Of — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened a second day of talks with senior North Korean officials on Saturday, with both sides saying they need clarity on the parameters of an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

On his third trip to Pyongyang since April and his first since last month’s historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo was meeting Kim Yong Chol, a senior ruling party official. Both men said they needed to “clarify” certain elements of their previous discussions, but provided no detail. A meeting between Pompeo and Kim Jong Un later Saturday was expected but not certain, U.S. officials said.

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs, Pompeo spent the night at a government guest house in Pyongyang after a three-hour dinner with Kim Yong Chol, something the North Korean official alluded to in comments as they began their talks.

“We did have very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday,” Kim said. “So, thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night.”

Pompeo, who spoke with Trump, national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly by secure phone before starting Saturday’s session, replied that he “slept just fine.” He added that the Trump administration was committed to reaching a deal under which North Korea would denuclearize and realize economic benefits in return.

Kim later said that “there are things that I have to clarify” to which Pompeo responded that “there are things that I have to clarify as well.”

There was no immediate explanation of what needed to be clarified but the two sides have been struggling to specify what exactly “denuclearization” would entail and how it could be verified to the satisfaction of the United States.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the U.S. remains “very firm” in its stance that three basic goals be met: complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances, and the repatriation of remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean war.

“Our policy hasn’t changed,” she said when asked why U.S. officials appear in public comments to have backed away from early demands.

 

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