The United States will “re-engage” with Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), over denuclearization-related issues of mutual concern, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.
In an interview with B98 FM, a radio station of the U.S. state of Kansas via teleconference, Pompeo said that “we believe we’re still moving forward. It’s certainly difficult — we knew it would be. It’s been a decades-long challenge,” according to the interview transcript circulated by the U.S. Department of State. “But we have the toughest economic sanctions in history, but the most promising diplomatic engagement in history as well,” he continued. “And so we made a little bit more progress in Hanoi, now three weeks back, when President Trump traveled there to meet with Chairman Kim.” “We’ll re-engage with him. It’s incredibly important that we take down the threat not only for America and for Kansas, but for the entire world,” said the U.S. top diplomat. In a separate interview with other local Kansas media outlets on the same day also via teleconference, Pompeo said that the U.S.-DPRK engagement over the Korean Peninsula denuclearization is “a long journey.” “It’s going to be difficult. To convince North Korea (the DPRK) to give up their nuclear weapons took a great deal of work,” he said. “We made a little bit of progress in Hanoi along that route, not nearly as much as we had hoped, but the effort continues because it’s important.”
Speaking of the reasons why the Hanoi summit has failed to lead to the agreement signing, Pompeo said that “it’s clearly a range of issues around timing and sequencing and how it is we achieve this.”
“President Trump’s commitment … has to follow the verified denuclearization of North Korea. And getting that sequencing right and getting it laid out in a way that each of the parties can agree to and take down the tension level along the North and South Korean border, it matters to … our important partners, and it matters to the whole world,” he said. Noting earlier on Friday that Washington is still hopeful for continued talks with Pyongyang, Pompeo confirmed that there are ongoing negotiations between the two sides. The second summit between the DPRK’s top leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi ended without agreement on Feb. 28.
On Friday, DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed the U.S. side for the failure of the Hanoi summit, saying the talks failed because the U.S. side lacked sincerity. Other parties concerned have also tried to promote the U.S.-DPRK dialogue. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said earlier on Monday that China hopes the DPRK and the United States would cherish the hard-won momentum of dialogue and keep talking until a peaceful denuclearized Korean Peninsula is realized. “After the Hanoi summit, the DPRK and the U.S. both expressed willingness to continue dialogues. We commend and encourage this,” Geng said, adding that the key to keeping up and advancing dialogue is to accommodate all parties’ legitimate concerns in a balanced way, build up mutual trust and consensus, take phased and synchronized steps, and start with easier moves. “As the nuclear issue has dragged on for decades and complicated factors are at play, one cannot expect it to be solved overnight. All parties need to have reasonable expectations. One shouldn’t set the bar too high at the outset or make unilateral, unrealistic demands,” Geng quoted Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Sunday that both the DPRK and the United States “never” wanted to go back to the past confrontation and tension.
Though Kim and Trump failed to reach an agreement in Hanoi, both Pyongyang and Washington made clear their willingness to continue diplomacy and negotiations, the Blue House noted, adding that the South Korean government will make best efforts to help resume the DPRK-U.S. negotiations as soon as possible in close cooperation with the United States while encouraging the DPRK to stay in the dialogue track.