Pompeo and North Korean official are trying to salvage nuclear summit with New York skyline below them
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo points out New York landmarks, including the United Nations headquarters and the Freedom Tower, to North Korean official Kim Yong Chol on Wednesday. (State Department) May 31 at 12:11 PM Email the author
NEW YORK â" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official abruptly ended two days of talks Thursday with no immediate announcement of progress toward reinstating a potential summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump.
The State Department said Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, the right-hand man to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, concluded their meetings before noon, roughly 90 minutes earli er than expected.
Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert did not immediately explain why the schedule changed, and it was not clear whether the two men had hit an impasse in efforts to set the agenda for a leader summit in Singapore next month.
Kim is the most senior North Korean to visit the United States in almost two decades. He sat down with Pompeo at 9:05 a.m. in an unoccupied, government-leased luxury condominium that serves as the residence of the deputy head of the U.S. mission to the United Nations two short blocks away.
Pompeo was accompanied by two North Korea experts and an interpreter. Kim Yong Chol and his unidentified aides, two men and a woman, sat facing a curved window with a sweeping view of the East River and Lower Manhattan.
Pompeo and Kim were smiling but silent as they prepared to hold talks over tea at the same table where they shared a private dinner Wednesday night. Both men ignored questions shouted by journalists allowed in to witness them shaking hands and sitting down to start their delicate discussions that could seal, or sink, the chances of a June 12 summit.
A senior State Department official said the purpose of the meeting in New York was to seek a broad agreement on what a successful summit might look like just two weeks from now. The summit was scheduled for June 12, then abruptly canceled by Trump when the North Koreans stopped answering phone calls from U.S. officials to make plans. The North Koreans complained about administration officials talking up the so-called âLibyan model,â a scenario that ended with the death of that countryâs leader.
[âA lot of dial tonesâ: The inside story of how Trump called off the summit]
As he departed for a trip to Texas on Thursday, Trump told reporters that the meetings with the North Korean delegation in New York have gone âvery wellâ and that he expects North Korean envoys to travel to Washington on Friday to deliver âa letter from Kim Jong Un.â
Asked if a deal was taking shape, Trump said he wasnât sure but that the negotiations âare in good hands.â
âHopefully weâll have a meeting on the 12th,â Trump said
âIt doesnât mean it all gets done at one meeting,â Trump said, adding that a second or third meeting might be necessary.
Shortly after his plane arrived in New York, Pompeo tweeted that he was looking forward to meeting with Kim Yong Chol and added, âWe are committed to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.â U.S. officials have repeated the four elements so frequently that they refer to it casually by the initials CVID.
The State Department official said they were seeking a corresponding commitment and âactionâ from the North Koreans.
âI think we are looking for something historic,â said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meetings. âI think weâre looking for something that has never been done before. And if for whatever reason the North Koreans say theyâre not ready to do something like that, fine, we tried. We will ramp up the pressure on them. And weâll be ready for the day that hopefully they are prepared.â
The administration is arguing that if the North Koreans want security, it cannot come from nuclear weapons. Instead, their pitch is that Pyongyang will gain more security by abandoning its nuclear program, allowing it to escape from the yoke of international sanctions and isolation and concentrate on economic prosperity.
To drive the point home, the State Department released a photo of Pompeo pointing out of the condoâs window to the splendor of the New York skyline, as if to say to the two North Koreans by his side that the same kind of wealth could be theirs, too.
âWe are talking about a brighter future for North Korea, if it makes a smart choice,â the State Depart ment official said.
[Top North Korean official meets American counterpart, shrouded in secrecy]
Pompeoâs meeting with Kim Yong Chol in New York is going on at the same time as talks are underway in two other locales. A U.S. delegation is meeting with North Korean officials in the demilitarized zone between the North and South to discuss the summitâs content. Separate meetings are being held in Singapore to discuss logistics such as the shape of the table and protocol issues.
At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave an upbeat assessment of preparations for the summit and said the United States is âshooting forâ a reinstatement of the meeting as scheduled on June 12.
âThe conversation is going to be focused on denuclearization of the peninsula. Thatâs what these ongoing conversations taking place now will be centered on,â including Pompeoâs meetings in New York, Sanders said.
âAs long as that is part of the di scussion, weâre going to continue to shoot for the June 12th and expect to do that.â
[South Koreaâs President Moon is the man in the (very precarious) middle]
Sanders said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin also met with a North Korean team in Singapore on Wednesday and would continue meetings Thursday.
Separately, a U.S. delegation led by U.S. envoy Sung Kim met with North Korean officials Wednesday at the demilitarized zone, Sanders said.
âSo far, the readout from these meetings has been positive, and weâll continue to move forward in them,â she said.
But the primary focus is on Pompeoâs meeting with Kim Yong Chol. He is the vice chairman of the Workersâ Party of Korea Central Committee responsible for South Korean affairs. He is also on the State Affairs Commission, the North Korean governmentâs supreme policymaking organization. His portfolio includes North Koreaâs relationship with China and, lately, the United Sta tes.
Gearan reported from Washington. John Wagner contributed to this report.Source: Google News