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(LEAD) Pompeo: U.S. still committed to N.K. denuclearization

North Korea 09:00 December 21, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with Pompeo's remarks in separate interview in last 2 paras)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- The United States is working to achieve North Korea's commitment to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday amid deadlocked negotiations.

Pompeo also said in an interview with Kansas-based KNSS Radio that the two sides will continue to have meetings, including a possible second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"We still are working through the execution of Chairman Kim's commitment to denuclearize," he said. "We are hopeful that in the new year President Trump and Chairman Kim will get together not too long after the first of the year and make even further progress on taking this threat to the United States away from us."

Hours earlier, the North's state news agency issued a commentary slamming the U.S. for its "misguided" understanding of "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" -- a commitment Trump and Kim made at their first summit in Singapore in June.

Nowhere in their joint statement did the two leaders commit to "denuclearization of North Korea," the Korean Central News Agency said in an English dispatch, asserting that "when we refer to the Korean peninsula, they include both the area of the DPRK and the area of south Korea where aggression troops including the nuclear weapons of the U.S. are deployed."

DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The commentary also leveled its criticism at Pompeo.

"The State secretary of the U.S. who took part in the epochal event in Singapore himself is asserting that 'north Korea committed itself to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of north Korea there.' This is something aghast," it said.

Asked about North Korea in a separate interview the same day, Pompeo phrased the objective differently, although it's unclear whether that was intentional.

"I never talk about the actual discussions we're having, because they're private conversations on how to work our pathway forward toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said on KMUW Wichita Public Radio. "We're very hopeful that we can make a significant step."


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