US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to North Korea Thursday to meet with leader Kim Jong-un and continue negotiations on dismantling the regime’s nuclear weapons program, the White House said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday announced Pompeo’s first visit to Pyongyang since last month’s historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Pompeo will be in North Korea through Saturday “to continue consultations and implement the forward progress” made by the two leaders at their Singapore meeting, the State Department added in a statement.
At a regular press briefing, Sanders said the top US diplomat will meet with the North Korean leader and his “team.”
“We are continuing to make progress. We had good meetings yesterday,” she said, referring to Sunday’s talks at the inter-Korean border between US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui.
The summit yielded a joint statement that committed Kim to work towards the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the US
Pompeo is the US point man for North Korea negotiations. He made two trips to Pyongyang in the run-up to the summit to determine whether the regime was serious about giving up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Sung Kim, a North Korea expert and former US ambassador to Seoul, held multiple pre-summit meetings with Choe to negotiate the details of the leaders’ joint statement.
Multiple news reports have cited US intelligence sources as questioning the North’s commitment to denuclearize over findings that point to a build-up of nuclear-related facilities in the reclusive nation.
The reports accuse Pyongyang of deceiving Washington in order to extract as many concessions as possible.
Sanders declined to comment on intelligence matters.
And asked to clarify US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s remark that North Korea’s nuclear program could be dismantled in a year if the regime is willing, she responded, “There’s great momentum right now for positive change.”
Pompeo will travel to Tokyo after Pyongyang to meet with Japanese and South Korean leaders on their “shared commitment to the final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea, according to the State Department statement.
He will then hold similar discussions in Hanoi with senior Vietnamese officials.