Pompeo hopes to meet N. Koreans soon to discuss next summit

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that he hopes to meet with his North Korean counterpart "in the next week and a half or so" to continue planning for a second nuclear summit between their leaders.

Pompeo revealed the plan during an interview held with the Voice of America on the sidelines of a trip to Mexico City.

He said the date for a second meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has yet to be set. Asked if he expects it to happen "in the very near future," he replied, "I do."

"We're working on finding dates and times and places that will work for each of the two leaders," Pompeo told the VOA. "I'm very hopeful we'll have senior leader meetings here in the next week and a half or so between myself and my counterpart to continue this discussion so that when the two of them get together there is real opportunity to make another big step forward on denuclearization."

Pompeo was likely referring to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, although he didn't specify.

The top U.S. diplomat was in Pyongyang earlier this month to push progress on a denuclearization agreement reached by Trump and Kim at their first summit in Singapore in June.

Part of the trip's aim was also to set up a second summit, which Trump has said will happen after the Nov. 6 U.S. midterm elections in one of three or four possible locations.

"Chairman Kim reiterated when I was with him -- now I guess it's two weeks ago -- his commitment to that, that he stands by the commitment he made to President Trump in Singapore on June 12th, and we intend to do everything we can to make sure that he delivers on that so that we can come to the day where the people of North Korea will indeed have a brighter future," Pompeo said. "President Trump is determined to have North Korea achieve that."

In return for Kim's commitment to work toward "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Trump promised the U.S. would provide security guarantees to the regime.

Pompeo said it's a "very difficult challenge" for the North Korean leader to agree to surrender a nuclear weapons program on which the regime has staked its survival.

"I'm very happy that he's made this decision, but to execute on that is complex and will take time," he said. "And so long as we can continue to make progress and not have missiles being fired and nuclear tests being conducted, allowing them to perfect their program even further, then I think it's all to the good."

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. administration official was quoted as telling a group of reporters the summit is unlikely to take place this year.

"A meeting is likely sometime after the first of the year," Reuters quoted the official as saying.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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