(LEAD) N. Korea, U.S. launch 'working groups' on denuclearization
(ATTN: UPDATES with news report; CHANGES headline, dateline)
WASHINGTON, July 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and the United States have established working groups to talk about details of a denuclearization plan, a U.S. official was quoted as saying Saturday, as Washington's top diplomat is set for a second day of negotiations in Pyongyang.
The two sides set up the consultation channel to deal with "nitty gritty stuff," including those related to efforts to achieve the complete denuclearization of the North, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, according to Reuters, which cited a pool report. They are accompanying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his first trip to the communist nation since the June 12 Singapore summit deal between President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong-un.
On his first day in Pyongyang, Pompeo had a nearly three-hour meeting with Kim Yong-chol, a top aide to the North's leader.
Nauert said they also discussed the repatriation of the remains of some American troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.
If realized, it's another goodwill gesture by the North to follow up on the Singapore accord.
What's drawing keen attention is whether the two sides will reach an agreement on concrete measures on the denuclearization front, such as a timeline and a method for denuclearization.
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.
Before landing in Pyongyang, Pompeo said, "On this trip, I'm seeking to fill in some details on these commitments and continue the momentum toward the implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world.
"I expect that the DPRK is ready to do the same," he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
He said he was looking forward to "continuing our work toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of #DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim."
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.
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.
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