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(3rd LD) Pompeo in 2nd day of denuclearization talks in N. Korea

All Headlines 12:07 July 07, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with 2nd day talks; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, July 7 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met again with a senior North Korean official in Pyongyang on Saturday, the second day of his trip there meant to discuss the communist nation's concrete denuclearization steps.

Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, started the talks, saying the two sides had a "very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday," according to Reuters, apparently based on a pool report.

Pompeo agreed, "We did have a good set of conversations yesterday" and added he's looking forward to continued dialogue.

But they pointed out that they have things to "clarify," suggesting no major deal yet.

The secretary reminded the North's official, known as a right-hand man of leader Kim Jong-un, of President Donald Trump's talk of a "brighter future for North Korea" in case of its complete denuclearization as agreed in the Singapore summit on June 12.

This AP photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) shaking hands with Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean communist party official, at Baekhwawon Guesthouse in Pyongyang on July 7, 2018. (Yonhap)

Earlier in the day, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters accompanying Peompeo that the two sides have established working groups to talk about details of a denuclearization plan.

Pompeo is leading an inter-agency team of officials on the trip, which includes Sung Kim, the department's well-known Korea expert.

On Friday, Pompeo had a nearly three-hour meeting with Kim Yong-chol, who traveled to the White House ahead of the Singapore summit.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Twitter message on July 6, 2018 (Yonhap)

Nauert said the North's plan to repatriate the remains of some American troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War was discussed in the first day's session.

If realized, it's another goodwill gesture by the North to follow up on the Singapore agreement.

What's drawing keen attention is whether the two sides will reach an agreement on 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.

The North's media belatedly reported the secretary's arrival there.

A U.S. delegation led by Pompeo is to "take part in the first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks for implementing the joint statement adopted and made public at the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks," the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a two-paragraph report on Saturday morning.

It gave no other information. The DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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

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.

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.

lcd@yna.co.kr

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)

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