WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met for nearly three hours Friday with a top North Korean official in Pyongyang to nail down specifics of commitments on denuclearization made at President Donald Trump’s summit with leader Kim Jong Un last month.
Pompeo has the crucial task of dispelling growing skepticism over how serious Kim is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following the June 12 summit into concrete action.
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It’s his third trip to the North Korean capital in as many months, and his first since the summit. At the top of his meeting with Kim Yong Chol, a senior ruling party official and close aide to North Korea’s leader, Pompeo quipped about his frequent visits.
“I was joking that if I come one more time, I will have to pay taxes here,” the top U.S. diplomat said.
Kim, who has been something of a point man on Washington negotiations for Kim Jong Un, said: “The more you come, more trust we can build between one another.”
Their talks lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. They were held at a state guesthouse complex located a short drive from the gargantuan mausoleum where North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung and his successor Kim Jong Il lie in state.
Pompeo was expected to hold further meetings on Saturday. It was not clear whether any progress was made in Friday’s discussions and whether Pompeo would be meeting directly with Kim Jong Un, as he had done on his previous visits.
On the flight to Pyongyang, Pompeo said both sides made commitments at the Singapore summit on the complete denuclearization of North Korea and on what a transformed relationship between their two countries might look like.