Pompeo: Trump North Korea tweet was done with ‘eyes wide open’

Pompeo says Trump has been “incredibly clear” about the sequencing of the process. (AFP)

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un understands that denuclearization must happen “quickly”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday, warning there will be no sanctions relief for Pyongyang until the process is complete.

Pompeo said Washington remained committed to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization of North Korea, after the joint statement from the US-North Korea summit in Singapore drew criticism for lack of detail on the key issue.

“We believe that Kim Jong Un understands the urgency... that we must do this quickly,” he said of the effort to have North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons.

Washington’s top diplomat is in Seoul to brief his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday’s historic talks.

“Following on the historic summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un. The trilateral cooperation among the United States, South Korea and Japan has been crucial to the effectiveness regarding our efforts regarding our efforts related to the denuclearization of North Korea. And it was certainly key to our opportunity for the summit in Singapore. The discussions we held today amongst the three of us reflect our three countries commitment to continue working together towards the ultimate success of this effort,” Pompeo said.

Following the summit, Trump said the US would halt its “provocative” joint military drills with South Korea as long as negotiations are ongoing with the North, an announcement that caught Seoul by surprise.

But the US-South Korea alliance remains “as robust as ever”, Seoul’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said at a press conference with Pompeo and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono.

Pompeo is scheduled to fly to Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart after the meetings in Seoul.

Trump tweet

Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s comment about North Korea no longer posing a nuclear threat was made “with eyes wide open.”

He defended Trump’s tweet just after returning from Singapore in which he said the world can “sleep well tonight” and that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

Pompeo says Trump was referring to the fact that for the first time in history, a US president sat down with a North Korean leader. He says Trump and Kim Jong Un had a “blunt conversation” about changes needed for North Korea to rejoin the world community.

Pompeo is pushing back on a report from North Korean official state media that said President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un had agreed to a “step-by-step” process. That was interpreted as meaning the US would grant concessions to North Korea concessions along the way despite longstanding US insistence that it would not.

Pompeo says Trump has been “incredibly clear” about the sequencing of the process.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57
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