WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday the United States is hopeful that denuclearization negotiations with North Korea will continue, in comments made hours after Pyongyang threatened to pull out of talks.
Pompeo said he has “every expectation” that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will keep his promise to U.S. President Donald Trump, offered during their meeting last month in Vietnam, that Pyongyang will continue to refrain from nuclear and missile tests.
“We are hopeful that we can continue to have conversation, negotiations,” Pompeo told reporters after North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang is considering suspending talks with Washington following the breakdown of the summit in Hanoi.
Asked about Choe’s threat that Kim may rethink a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests unless the United States makes concessions, Pompeo said, “In Hanoi, on multiple occasions, (Kim) spoke directly to the president and made a commitment he would not resume nuclear testing, nor would he resume missile testing.”
“That’s Chairman Kim’s word. We have every expectation that he will live up to that commitment,” Pompeo said, referring to the North’s leader by his title as head of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
The chief U.S. diplomat gave no indication that Washington would relent in its insistence for “the complete denuclearization of North Korea” with Pyongyang giving up its “entire” weapons of mass destruction program.
Speaking to foreign diplomats and journalists Friday in the North’s capital, Choe, who attended the Feb. 27-28 summit, said Kim will soon decide if he wants to continue denuclearization talks and whether to continue refraining from missile launches and nuclear tests.
The second Trump-Kim summit collapsed due to gaps between Trump’s call for the full denuclearization of North Korea and Kim’s demand for substantial relief from U.N. sanctions.