U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday urged North Korea to follow the example of Vietnam, saying President Donald Trump believed Pyongyang could replicate Hanoi's path to normal relations with Washington and to prosperity. But he tweeted, "Hope Not!"
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo with his Japanese and South Korean Pompeo responded directly to North Korea's Foreign Ministry's comment, after his two-day trip to Pyongyang, that the USA employed a "unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization".
Pompeo downplayed a harshly critical North Korean statement issued after the talks in which the country's foreign ministry bashed hopes for a quick deal and attacked the US for making unreasonable and extortionate demands aimed at forcing it to abandon nuclear weapons.
The North's statement came just hours after Pompeo wrapped up two-days of talks with senior officials which he described as "productive" and "conducted in good faith". "There are things that I have to clarify", Kim, who serves as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), said.
There was no immediate explanation of what needed to be clarified but the two sides have been struggling to specify what exactly "denuclearization' would entail and how it could be verified to the satisfaction of the United States".
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Trump had said during the Singapore summit that economic sanctions would remain in effect until North Korea reverses its nuclear programme, adding that there were no short-term plans to reduce the number of USA troops - some 28,500 - stationed in South Korea.
No sooner had Pompeo left when Kim's media published a statement saying the US's "unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearisation" risked upending ties less than a month after Trump and Kim shook hands in Singapore.
Pompeo was set to make a secure phone call to debrief U.S. President Donald Trump on the talks, the pool report said earlier in the day.
The North statement contradicted the version of events given by Pompeo just hours before.
After talks with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea on Sunday, the secretary of state said his efforts to press the North on nuclear weapons were legitimate.
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"We expected that the U.S. side would bring itself with a constructive proposal which would help build up trust true to the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks", the statement read.
"The statements that were put out, Chairman Kim's statement following our discussions, continued to express his desire to complete the denuclearization to which he is so committed", Pompeo said.
"Dealing with North Korea is hard because Kim Jong Un wants it to be hard", said Russel, who was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Obama administration.
Officials from the two sides would meet next week in Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas, to discuss the return of the remains of roughly 7,000 US soldiers missing since the 1950-1953 Korean War. If not, his high-stakes North Korea gambit could join a long list of failed nuclear deals with Pyongyang.
North Korea called the outcome of the discussion "worrisome" and argued that the "cancerous issues" the U.S. delegation raised were the same ones that had "amplified" distrust and the risk of war with past administrations, resulting in previous talks ending in failure.
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