Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | ePaper

US will help make NKorea rich if it disarms: Pompeo

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a joint press availability with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-who after their meeting at the State Department in Washington on Friday.

AFP, Washington :
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that if North Korea agrees to surrender its nuclear arsenal, Washington will work with Pyongyang to rebuild its tiny economy.
"If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on par with our South Korean friends," he said.
Pompeo was speaking after talks with his South Korean opposite number Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to prepare for a historic June 12 summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Some observers are concerned that South Korea's desire to build peaceful ties with the North may distance it over time from the US policy of seeking nuclear disarmament at any cost.
But both Kang and Pompeo insisted that they agreed on the need for the "total, complete, permanent and verifiable" denuclearization of the divided peninsula.
And Pompeo said the United States would remain on board to help develop the North's economy, which has been devastated by its own mismanagement and crippling international sanctions.
Pompeo has had two recent meetings with Kim to prepare for the summit and, last weekend, to negotiate the release of three Korean-Americans held in the North's jails.
He said he had had good conversations with Kim, who he found to be a focused and rational interlocutor.
"We had good conversations, conversations that involve deep complex problems, challenges, strategic decisions that chairman Kim has before him," Pompeo said.
The pair, he said, talked "about how it is he wishes to proceed and if he's prepared, in exchange for the assurances that we're ready to provide him, if he is prepared to fully denuclearize.
"We'll require a robust verification program, one that we would undertake with partners around the world which would achieve that outcome," he warned.
But he added: "I'm confident that we have a shared understanding of the outcome that the leaders want-certainly President Trump and chairman Kim, but I think president Moon as well."
"I think that we have a shared vision for what we hope. I think there's a complete agreement about what the ultimate objectives are," he said.
Pompeo, who returned from Pyongyang this week with three Americans who had been held prisoner by North Korea, said the release of men had helped set conditions for a successful meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore on June 12.
However, his comments made clear that the two sides remained far apart on the key issue of what they mean by denuclearization.
Pompeo said he had "good, substantive" conversations with Kim in Pyongyang in what was his second meeting with the North Korea leader in less that six weeks, and believed both sides understood the ultimate goal of the summit.
"We had good conversations, substantive conversations. Conversations that involved deep complex problems, challenges; the strategic decision that Chairman Kim has before him about how it is he wishes to proceed and if he is prepared, in exchange for the assurances we are ready to provide to him, if he is prepared to fully denuclearize."
North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the United States brought exchanges of bellicose rhetoric between Trump and Kim last year that raised fears of a new war on the Korean peninsula.

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