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N Korea says talks with Pompeo were 'regrettable'

N Korea says talks with Pompeo were 'regrettable'

After a cordial and relaxed first meeting on Friday night, a little more tension was on display Saturday morning as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met again with North Korean leaders on a trip to Pyongyang meant to hammer out details from President Donald Trump's summit last month.

The tough statement comes hours after Pompeo said progress with North Korea had been made "on nearly all of the central issues" including denuclearisation, although he insisted that work still needed to be done.

But Pyongyang said Saturday of its meetings with Pompeo, "We expected the USA side to come up with constructive measures to help build trust in the spirit of reunion. We were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures", an unnamed spokesperson of the North's foreign ministry said in a statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency.

"But through the high-level talks, the trust between the DPRK and the United States is facing a risky situation where our resolve for denuclearisation, which has been firm and steadfast, may falter".

And it did so in stark terms, according to a statement relayed by the KCNA state news agency. The contrasting comments raised questions over whether North Korea is committed to abandoning the nuclear programs it has developed for decades and has seen as key to its survival.

In fact, Trump earned the scorn of seasoned Korea watchers and non-proliferation experts when he declared the crisis over. And even if North Korea modulates its rhetoric, there is likely to remain a fundamental disconnect between what the United States wants the country to do and what Kim Jong-un is willing to give up.

In comparison to past worldwide nuclear disarmament negotiations, the discussions between Washington and North Korea on thawing ties and dismantling the North's arsenal appear to be proceeding in reverse.

On his 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.

"I think we made progress in every element of our discussions", he added.

Speaking privately, U.S. officials suggested the North Korean statement was a negotiating tactic.

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Pompeo has bristled at the idea that the Singapore declaration was an empty promise, saying repeatedly that Kim Jong Un had assured him in private conversations he was ready to give up his nuclear arms.

The visit came a week after reports surfaced detailing concerns among US intelligence officials that North Korea was not taking steps to dismantle its nuclear program and seeking to "deceive" Washington.

Pompeo said that a Pentagon team would be meeting with North Korean officials on or about July 12 at the border between North and South Korea to discuss the repatriation of remains and that working level talks would be held soon on the destruction of North Korea's missile engine testing facility.

The US betrayed the spirit of last month's summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by making unilateral demands on the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea, the statement said.

Nauert said Pompeo had been "very firm" on three basic goals: the complete denuclearisation of North Korea, security assurances, and the repatriation of US remains from the 1950-53 Korean War.

When asked about the tension between the two, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, "There's a lot of hard work to be done".

But Trump has repeatedly suggested he can get things done with North Korea (and many other fronts) by the force of his personality and his unorthodox approach, which in this instance, reportedly included sending a gift to Kim with Pompeo - a CD of Elton John's song "Rocket Man".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to members of the media following two days of meetings with Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, before boarding his plane at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 7, 2018, to travel to Japan.

In the letter, Kim Jong Un expressed his "expectation and conviction" that future dialogue would further consolidate the sentiments of good faith between the two leaders, KCNA said.


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