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(LEAD) Pompeo says confident U.S., N. Korea moving in right direction

All News 04:23 June 01, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with details; ADDS photo)

NEW YORK, May 31 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that recent talks with North Korea produced "real progress" toward a fruitful summit between their leaders.

Pompeo held two days of meetings with a senior North Korean official in New York as both sides push to salvage a June 12 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on dismantling the North's nuclear weapons program.

"Through these series of meetings, I'm confident we're moving in the right direction," he said at a news conference, also mentioning parallel talks in Korea and Singapore.

But the top U.S. diplomat was unable to say whether the summit will take place June 12 in Singapore as originally planned before Trump called it off and then it put it back on track last week.

This photo, posted on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's (R) Twitter account, shows him shaking hands with Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, in New York on May 31, 2018. (Yonhap)

Pompeo said that in his meeting with Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, they talked about how they could "take advantage of the unique opportunity" created by their leaders.

"The proposed summit offers a historic opening for President Trump and Chairman Kim to boldly lead the United States and the DPRK into an era of peace, prosperity and security," Pompeo said, using an acronym for the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

It would be "nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste," he said. It would also take "bold leadership" from Kim, something both he and Trump believe the young leader has.

In the coming weeks and months, "we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case," Pompeo said, noting the U.S. objective remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

He added that Kim Yong-chol will travel to Washington Friday to deliver a personal letter from Kim Jong-un to Trump.

"We've made real progress in the last 72 hours towards setting the conditions," the secretary of state said. "What are the conditions? The conditions are putting President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in a place where we think there could be real progress made by the two of them meeting."


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