Pompeo optimistic progress will be made on North Korea trip

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Sunday, the State Department announced Tuesday.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has backed away from a previously stated goal of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons by the end of Donald Trump's first term in January 2021.

Ri Yong-ho, North Korea's foreign minister, said at the United Nations last week that "there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first".

"It shows forward progress and momentum that the secretary is making his fourth trip back in less than a year", a State Department spokeswoman said.

Wednesday's Washington Post quoted South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha as saying in an interview that to break the stalemate, Washington should hold off on its long-standing demand for an inventory of North Korea's weapons programs and agree to an end-of-war declaration in return for a North Korean pledge to dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear site.

After the trip to Pyongyang, Pompeo will head later Sunday to Seoul, where he will meet President Moon Jae-in, a dove who has helped spearhead the reconciliation efforts with North Korea.

"These conversations are going in the right direction, and we feel confident enough to hop on a plane to head there to continue the conversations", she said.

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President Donald Trump and Kim agreed to denuclearization only in vague terms at their summit in Singapore, the first meeting between leaders of the USA and North Korea.

Washington and Pyongyang have made little progress in their nuclear talks since the first Trump-Kim summit, which drew a backlash for being short on specifics, especially on steps toward denuclearization.

"I don't know when the summit will take place".

Trump has nevertheless appeared keen on a second summit with Kim, even though recent North Korean statements have suggested the two sides are far from narrowing their differences.

Cho said North Korea may have accepted the USA proposal to shut down a nuclear weapons plant in addition to the Yongbyon complex that Kim promised to close during his third summit with Moon from September 18 to 20. At a campaign rally on Saturday, Trump seemed to signal he was open to the prospect, when he spoke about the "beautiful letters" he had received from the North Korean leader.

Pompeo stressed that in the meantime global sanctions would have to remain in place on North Korea.

Pompeo stressed that in the meantime, . global sanctions have to remain in place on North Korea, . and added there was unanimous support for the continued sanctions at the recent UN General Assembly. "I think the two sides adjusted their differences on what initial steps North Korea and the USA will each take", said Koh Yu-hwan, a Dongguk University professor.

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