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(2nd LD) Pompeo doesn't rule out another U.S.-N. Korea summit

All News 01:49 July 10, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead para; ADDS background; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, July 9 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the United States is "very hopeful" about continuing dialogue with North Korea, including another summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if appropriate.

Pompeo made the remark shortly after his deputy and top U.S. envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, departed Seoul following meetings with South Korean officials on the nuclear impasse with the North.

"We continue to work to establish dialogue and have substantive conversations about how we might deliver this really good outcome, this outcome of delivering peace and stability to the entire peninsula," Pompeo said in a teleconference with reporters in response to a question posed by Yonhap News Agency.

"We're very hopeful that we can continue to have this conversation, whether that's at levels beneath the summit, or if it's appropriate and there is a useful activity to take place, to have senior leaders get back together as well," he said. "As for who and how and timing, I just don't want to talk about that today."

This Reuters file photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Yonhap)

Trump said in a media interview Tuesday that he would meet again with Kim if doing so would be "helpful."

The two agreed at their first summit in Singapore in June 2018 to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.

They met twice more -- in Vietnam in February 2019 and on the inter-Korean border in June 2019 -- but failed to agree on the next steps due to wide differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

The North Koreans have at least publicly spurned the idea of resuming dialogue with the U.S., saying they have no interest in talks that are being used as a "tool for grappling (the U.S.) political crisis."

Talk of another Trump-Kim summit gained traction after South Korean President Moon Jae-in told European leaders last month that he would work to make one happen before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Shortly afterward, Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, claimed that the U.S. president could meet again with Kim if he believed it would help his reelection chances. Some public opinions polls have shown him trailing behind his main opponent, Joe Biden.

The U.S. president has often boasted of his close relationship with the North Korean leader and claimed that had he not been elected president the U.S. would be at war with the North.

Pompeo asserted that the Trump administration has been serious in its engagements with the North Korean regime.

"I don't want to comment on the ongoing conversations that we are having with our counterparty, but I think it's worth noting, with respect to North Korea, the Trump administration has taken an approach of engagement to have serious conversations about the strategic threat that North Korea presents to not only its near neighbors, like South Korea and China, but more broadly than that, certainly throughout the region," he said.

"So we took seriously this obligation to reduce proliferation and to try and convince the North Koreans to make the fundamental shift that says that those weapon systems actually create risk for it rather than creating the security blanket that they have historically believed that it did," he added.

hague@yna.co.kr
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