Pompeo, ‘counterpart’ to meet next week

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Pompeo, ‘counterpart’ to meet next week

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he will meet with his North Korean “counterpart” next week for denuclearization talks and that the second U.S.-North summit will hopefully be held early next year.

Pompeo did not specify the location, date or who exactly he plans to meet with in the coming days. If the meeting does take place, it will be his first time meeting a North Korean official since he returned from his fourth visit to Pyongyang in early October.

Pompeo’s remarks on a high-level meeting and second summit with North Korea were made Wednesday in Washington during a radio interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

It was the first time Pompeo said that the second U.S.-North summit will be held early next year. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a different radio interview on Oct. 22 that the summit will probably be held “after the first of the year.” Until Pompeo’s latest statement, this had been the most specific on-the-record information about the second summit’s date from a White House official.

“It’s one of the things I’ll speak with my counterpart next week about,” Pompeo said when asked about a report that Pyongyang was preparing to invite American inspectors to verify its dismantlement of nuclear and missile test sites.

“We do have the intention of President [Donald] Trump and Chairman Kim [Jong-un] getting together before too long, hopefully early in the next year, where we can make a substantial breakthrough in taking down the nuclear threat from North Korea,” Pompeo went on to say.

In a separate radio interview Thursday on the “Lars Larson Show,” Pompeo reiterated that sanctions on the North will remain in place until the regime achieves complete denuclearization.

“Make no mistake, President Trump’s been clear,” he said. “The economic sanctions will not be lifted until such time as we have had the capacity to verify that they have eliminated their nuclear program.”

The secretary of state underscored that the Trump government also won’t provide the North with cash to speed along the denuclearization negotiations.

“What I want your listeners to know is, unlike previous administrations that have begun negotiations, grown weary of them, and then have provided North Korea with a whole bunch of money, this administration has no intention of allowing that to happen,” said Pompeo.

On another front, the Blue House said Thursday it still hoped to host Kim by the end of this year, one of many agreements he and Moon reached in late September during their third summit.

“There might be slight changes depending on the situation, but there’s no doubt Chairman Kim will visit [Seoul] soon,” a high-level Blue House official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

Discussions between Seoul and Pyongyang on Kim’s visit to Seoul are going well, according to the official, and the South looks forward to hosting him by the end of this year. While hiking with Blue House correspondents in Seoul on Oct. 28, Moon said he could take Kim to Mount Halla on Jeju Island when he comes.

Meanwhile, a local source who wished not to be identified said Thursday that Washington canceled a conference call between the U.S. government and major South Korean conglomerates whose executives visited North Korea as part of Moon’s summit delegation. According to the source, a U.S. government official called the companies early this week to suggest holding a conference call, but on Thursday, the U.S. government called again to say there was no need to hold the meeting, without explaining why.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KANG TAE-HWA [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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