Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his conversations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were “warm” and “good.”
Pompeo spoke to reporters at the State Department a day after returning from a trip to Pyongyang to negotiate with the North Korean leader and retrieve three Americans held by the regime.
“We had good conversations, substantive conversations that involved deep complex challenges,” Pompeo said about his two meetings with the North Korean leader who is known for assassinating rivals and family members, and running prison camps throughout his country.
Pompeo had met previously with Kim while CIA director, flying secretly to North Korea over the Easter weekend to discuss the possibility of a summit meeting with President Donald Trump and negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program.
“They were good conversations. Our conversations were warm, we were each representing our two countries” and working to share an understanding of their objectives were, Pompeo said. “We talked about the fact that America has often in history had adversaries that we are now close partners with.”
“The right path”
If Kim “chooses the right path,” Pompeo said, “there is a future brimming with peace and prosperity for the … North Korean people. America’s track record of support for the Korean people is second to none. If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends.”
Pompeo spoke alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, who is in Washington to get a briefing on the top US diplomat’s meetings and to prepare for a May 22 summit meeting between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Pompeo said that that any agreement with North Korea will have to include a “robust verification program” to ensure that Pyongyang complies, adding that the Trump administration was focused on making sure “we didn’t end up where we were before” in their talks with North Korea.
Pompeo and other US officials have repeatedly said they are seeking North Korea’s permanent verifiable denuclearization, while North Korean officials have said that they have already achieved their nuclear objectives.
When asked to define what he meant by permanent, verifiable denuclearization, Pompeo said, “I’m not sure how to define it fully, it’s pretty clear what that means … how to ensure North Korea doesn’t possess the capacity to threaten the world.”
“It will require a robust verification program and one that we will undertake with partners around the world,” Pompeo added.
Pompeo said that all three countries – the US, South Korea and North Korea – share the same vision for future of the Korean peninsula. “I am confident we have a shared understanding of the outcome that the leaders want,” Pompeo said, “certainly President Trump and Chairman Kim and I think President Moon as well.”
“I think we have a shared vision for what we hope, when this process is completed, the Korean peninsula looks like, I think we have a good understanding and I think there’s complete agreement of what the ultimate objectives are,” Pompeo said, adding that, “we began to work through the modalities of how we achieve that.”