Secy Of State: Progress Was Made On 'Central Issues' In Pyongyang

Secy Of State: Progress Was Made On 'Central Issues' In Pyongyang

North Korea balked Saturday at the latest round of denuclearization talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling the negotiations "extremely troubling" and warning the deal could collapse.

Speaking in Tokyo, Pompeo said his efforts to push the North on disarmament had the backing of the entire worldwide community.

In a statement from the North's Foreign Ministry spokesman, the North bashed what it called "unilateral and gangster-like" US demands for denuclearization, adding that it jeopardizes the commitments made at last month's summit with President Donald Trump. This miracle can be yours.

"I was there for the event", Pompeo said Sunday.

When Kim added Pompeo "might not have slept well last night" following Friday's discussions, the top USA diplomat said he "slept just fine" and that he agreed the two sides "did have a good set of conversations". But he also vowed that sanctions would remain until Pyongyang follows through on Kim's pledge to get rid of his atomic weapons.

Pompeo downplayed North Korea's statement after the talks in which the country's foreign ministry bashed hopes for a quick deal and accused the US of making "gangster-like" demands aimed at forcing it to abandon nuclear weapons. The statement was sure to fuel growing skepticism in the USA and elsewhere over how serious Kim is about giving up his nuclear arsenal.

He said North Korea had confirmed it meant to destroy a missile-engine testing facility and the two sides discussed the "modalities" of what that would look like.

"People are going to make stray comments after meetings", he said of North Korea's assertion. "If I paid attention to the press, I'd go nuts".

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Citing multiple diplomatic sources, Kyodo News reported that a team of North Korean diplomats has been sent to Geneva, Bern and Davos to look at conference halls and hotels as potential venues for its denuclearization talks with the US.

"The road ahead will be hard and challenging, and we know critics will try to minimize the work that we have achieved", he said. Pompeo, who did not meet with leader Kim Jong-un on this trip, could point to no concrete achievement from the talks aside from an agreement for the two sides to meet around July 12 in Panmunjom, the border village between the two Koreas, to discuss returning the remains of U.S. soldiers from the 1950-53 Korean War.

"We now have a meeting set up for July 12 - it could move by one day or two - where there will be discussions between the folks responsible for the repatriation of remains", he said.

US intelligence officials told Reuters that Pompeo would try to agree on at least an initial list of nuclear sites and an inventory that could be checked against available intelligence.

"The North Koreans are in the game to get, not to give", said Daniel Russel, the top USA diplomat for East Asia until past year.

"Particularly, they have suggested that they are disappointed by the United States insistence on focusing on the denuclearisation plans over what they described as big-picture issues", she said.

While insisting again that the talks were moving forwards, he stressed that nothing had happened to merit a relaxation of the tough sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear missile programme. North Korea committed at last month's summit to the "immediate repatriation" of remains already identified, but that hasn't happened yet. The accusation came after Pompeo visited Pyongyang and declared that the talks were productive.

He said the fact that the "cooperating - and not fighting" with Vietnam "is proof that when a country decides to create a brighter future for itself alongside the United States, we follow through on American promises". "But this expectation and hope of ours was so naive as to be gullible", the statement said.

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