WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that he expects a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to take place "shortly after the first of the year."
Pompeo also said in an interview with CNN that the U.S. is seeking a "substantive next step" in the denuclearization talks with the North and that the Trump administration will not prematurely lift sanctions on Pyongyang.
The interview took place after Trump held a one-on-one meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in Argentina. North Korea, including a possible second summit between Trump and Kim, was believed to have been a key topic in the talks.
"I hope it'll happen pretty soon. We're working hard at it. I think it'll happen shortly after the first of the year but I don't have any additional information to share with you this morning," Pompeo said in the interview.
Nuclear talks between the U.S. and the North have stalled as Pyongyang wants a reward from the U.S., such as sanctions relief, for the steps it has taken so far, such as blowing up its nuclear testing site, while the U.S. wants Pyongyang to take more denuclearization measures.
"We continue to have conversations about the right next step -- that is the right substantive next step, not the process next step of meetings. We're working with partners all across the world, South Koreans, the Japanese," Pompeo said.
The top American diplomat also said that the U.S. will keep sanctions on the North.
"These are global sanctions put in place by the United Nations Security Council which deny North Korea the capacity to improve their economy. That's not going to change, unlike previous administrations that when they got to a point that became difficult wrote checks for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars and let the North Koreans off the hook," Pompeo said.
"We're determined to fulfill the commitments that were made by Chairman Kim in Singapore and we're working hard at it," he said.
Cabinet reshuffle sets up Moon administration for 2nd half of term
(News Focus) Allies' decision on combined drills intended to back N.K. diplomacy, but feared to hurt readiness
(News Focus) Varied intentions lie behind N.K. nuclear crusade
(News Focus) N.K. leader eyes image as reliable economic leader
(News Focus) End-of-war declaration likely concession for N.K. denuclearization