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Trump insists he and Kim are ‘corresponding’

Pompeo says U.S. could make a promise not to invade North

July 24,2019
U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that there has been “very positive correspondence recently with North Korea” and that the two sides will resume denuclearization talks when Pyongyang is “ready.”

During a hurriedly arranged third meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the demilitarized zone on June 30, the two sides agreed to resume talks in the next several weeks.

But Pyongyang has been reluctant to set a date so far.

When asked if lower-level talks have been scheduled, Trump told reporters at the White House, “Probably they would like to meet,” adding that “there was a little correspondence recently.” His remarks came ahead of talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office.

Kim and Trump exchanged a series of letters starting before their first summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018, a form of top-down diplomacy that has brought the two sides together after ruptures or disagreements. It was unclear if the “correspondence” mentioned by Trump this time meant another personal letter from leader Kim, however.

Pyongyang has recently protested joint military drills between Seoul and Washington, saying that the exercise may affect the denuclearization talks.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry last week said that Trump had reaffirmed in the June 30 meeting with Kim that joint exercises between Seoul and Washington would be halted, adding that going ahead with them was “a breach” of the June 12 joint statement last year.

South Korea and the United States are reportedly considering renaming a joint military exercise scheduled for next month currently called 19-2 Dong Maeng in apparent consideration of North Korea. It is replacing the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a major joint drill usually held in August.

North Korea has called joint military drills between the South and the United States rehearsals for war. To encourage denuclearization negotiations, Seoul and Washington have suspended or scaled down major large-scale military exercises, and North Korea has halted its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing.

Trump also brushed off a Washington Post report Monday that alleged China’s IT giant Huawei Technologies secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network.

The United States has blacklisted Huawei since May over national security concerns and has also been pressuring allies, including South Korea, to join in on the ban.

The Washington Post, citing internal documents, reported that Huawei partnered with Panda International Information Technology, a Chinese state-owned company, on various projects in North Korea for at least eight years. It added that such a move would raise questions as to whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment.

Trump said, “I know all about it. I know all about Huawei. I know all about 5G. And we’re working on it, and we have companies that are now getting very, very strong in that department.”

On Huawei’s connection with North Korea, Trump said, “We have a very, very good relationship, the two of us, and that’s very important,” referring to North Korean leader Kim.

“And what they’re doing with 5G […] we will have to see,” he continued. “I’ll find out.”

Trump’s remarks came as his national security adviser, John Bolton, a hard-liner on North Korea policy, visits Seoul following a stop in Tokyo amid a diplomatic and trade row between the two neighbors.

Addressing North Korea’s security concerns, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on a radio show on Monday, “We’re prepared to provide a set of security arrangements that gives them comfort that if they disband their nuclear program, that the United States won’t attack them in the absence of that.”

Pompeo, speaking on the “The Buck Sexton Show” on iHeartMedia, said that North Koreans in exchange have to “fill the promise” to denuclearize, and that they “have to make a decision that they’re prepared to go execute that.”

He said, “This is the fully denuclearized, verified effort that we have been talking about for all of this time,” adding that there is “no ambiguity” and that this has been discussed with North Korean leader Kim “many times.”

Likewise, he added, “We hope that the working-level discussions will begin in a couple of weeks.”

In another interview with Fox News on Monday, Pompeo said that behind the scenes the U.S. State Department “has had a number of conversations with the North Koreans.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]


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