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Pompeo set for 2nd day of nuclear talks in N. Korea

All Headlines 06:32 July 07, 2018

WASHINGTON, July 6 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to hold a second day of talks with North Korean officials in Pyongyang Saturday (local time) as all eyes are on whether he will secure concrete commitments to dismantle the country's nuclear weapons program.

Pompeo arrived in the North Korean capital a day earlier and held nearly three hours of talks with Kim Yong-chol, a top aide of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The two sides met for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader held a historic summit in Singapore June 12, committing to work toward the "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the United States.

Pompeo's mission in Pyongyang is to flesh out that deal amid criticism it lacked specifics, such as a timeline and method for denuclearization.

It's also possible North Korea will use the occasion to return the remains of some American soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, a promise Kim made at the summit.

This image shows a post on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Twitter account on June 5, 2018. (Yonhap)

"On this trip, I'm seeking to fill in some details on these commitments and continue the momentum toward implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world," Pompeo was quoted as telling reporters on the flight to Pyongyang.

"I expect that the DPRK is ready to do the same," he said, using the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Among the key issues are a timeline for the denuclearization process, starting with a declaration of the North's nuclear arsenal followed by verification work. The U.S. wants significant progress within a year.

Pompeo sent tweets throughout the trip, without revealing details of the negotiations.

He said he was looking forward to "continuing our work toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of #DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim." He also said he spoke with Trump while both were in the air, and the president told him he believes Kim seeks a different and brighter future for his people.

"We both hope that's true," wrote Pompeo.

The top U.S. diplomat also acknowledged in a separate tweet that "there's much hard work ahead but peace is worth the effort."

The White House earlier said that Pompeo would be meeting with the North Korean leader. That meeting has yet to be confirmed, but the secretary met with Kim on his two previous trips to Pyongyang that laid the groundwork for the summit.

The U.S. hopes to maintain momentum amid news reports, based on U.S. intelligence sources, that the secretive North is continuing its nuclear activity. Many of them point to indications of a build-up of the regime's nuclear-related facilities and accuse Pyongyang of trying to deceive Washington in order to extract concessions.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday that he expects Pompeo to discuss with the North Koreans a plan to dismantle the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Tuesday declined to provide a timeline, saying the secretary will be going into the meetings "eyes wide open, with a very clear view of these conversations."

In possible pursuit of a more realistic goal, the Trump administration has started to use the term "final, fully-verified dismantlement (FFVD)" of the North's nuclear program instead of the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID)," jargon that Pyongyang apparently loathes.

Nauert denied that the administration has eased its demands.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. Our policy toward North Korea has not changed," she was quoted as telling reporters en route to Pyongyang.

Pompeo will fly straight to Tokyo from Pyongyang to brief his South Korean and Japanese counterparts -- Kang Kyung-wha and Taro Kono -- on the outcome of his meetings in North Korea.

hague@yna.co.kr
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