Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper
Pompeo sees hard road ahead, but pursues N Korean denuclearization talks
Reuters, Tokyo :
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shaking hands with Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Tokyo on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brushed off North Korean accusations of "gangster-like" diplomacy during negotiations in Pyongyang, saying on Sunday he will pursue denuclearization talks after meeting his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
Pompeo said in Tokyo there was still a lot of work to do but he was confident North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would stick to a commitment to abandon nuclear weapons he made during a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last month.
Pompeo's meeting with Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha followed two days of talks in Pyongyang that ended on Saturday.
"When we spoke to them about denuclearization, they did not push back," Pompeo told a news conference. "The road ahead will be difficult and challenging and we know that critics will try to minimize the work that we've achieved."
Pompeo spoke after North Korea said the two days of talks with America's top diplomat "brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.".
The statement, which referred to the North's formal name of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), was carried by the official KCNA news agency on Saturday soon after Pompeo left Pyongyang.
Kim made a broad commitment in Singapore to "work toward denuclearization" but did not give details on how or when he would dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. Trump in turn offered security guarantees to Pyongyang and pledged a halt to large-scale military drills with South Korea.
North Korea's latest comments, which came after Pompeo said talks had made progress, are a reminder of the difficulties that previous U.S. administrations have had negotiating with the reclusive state and suggest Pyongyang may not agree to any rapid denuclearization.
Leaked U.S. intelligence findings concluded that North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear program completely.
Trump has vowed that North Korea will not be allowed to threaten the United States with its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. His meeting with Kim in Singapore came after months of often bitter rhetoric and threats.
Pompeo said he did not meet Kim on his latest visit to Pyongyang, as he had done twice before.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter there was a danger military action could be called for because Trump might now claim he had tried diplomacy but was betrayed by Kim.
"But a rushed summit and demands that NK denuclearize in short order or else is not a serious test of diplomacy," Haass tweeted.
Japan's Kono thanked Pompeo and said the three allies had reaffirmed a commitment to keeping sanctions on North Korea until it abandoned nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles of all ranges.
"We confirmed that security assurances will be provided to North Korea as agreed in the summit. At the same time we have reaffirmed that the international community will continue to fully implement relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," Kono said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier heaped praise on Pompeo at his residence in Tokyo.