Pompeo: U.S. hopeful about continuing talks with N. Korea

March 15, 2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that he is hopeful nuclear negotiations with North Korea will continue, after Pyongyang reportedly said it may quit talks.

The sides came away empty handed from a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam last month.

“We are hopeful that we can continue to have conversation, negotiations,” Pompeo told reporters.

He added that the United States has “every expectation” the North Korean leader will honor his commitment to Trump to continue refraining from nuclear and missile tests.

The summit ended without an agreement due to differences over the scope of North Korea’s denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

In Pyongyang on Friday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said her regime had no interest in engaging in “negotiations of this kind” and rejected U.S. demands at the summit, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

She added that Kim will decide soon whether to continue talks and keep the moratorium on tests.

This AP file photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Yonhap)

This AP file photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Yonhap)

“I saw the remarks that she made,” Pompeo said. “She left open the possibility that negotiations would continue for sure. It’s the administration’s desire that we continue to have conversations around this.”

Choe accused Pompeo and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton of creating an atmosphere of hostility and mistrust at the summit, which ultimately led to its breakdown.

“They’re wrong about that and I was there,” he said.

Bolton also rejected the characterization.

“Well, I think that’s inaccurate,” he told reporters at the White House. “The president is our decision-maker.”

Pompeo expanded that he has a professional relationship with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong-chol, and that the two have detailed conversations.

“I expect that we will continue to do that,” he said, adding that it’s not the first time the North Koreans have cast him in unfavorable terms.

“I have a vague recollection of being called gangster-like from a visit that I took one time previously,” he said.

Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang in July to follow up on the first summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore in June. Shortly after he left, the North lashed out at him for making “gangster-like” demands.

Bolton, who is known to be hawkish on the North, said he has spoken to his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, to discuss their reaction to the North Korean statements.

“I’d like to speak further within the U.S. government before we respond,” he said.