Friday 14 December 2018

Pompeo to visit North Korea over nuclear plan​

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Lesley Wroughton

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to travel to North Korea next week to discuss the country's denuclearisation plans, the 'Financial Times' reported yesterday.

The newspaper cited four people who it said were familiar with his plans.

US officials said that Mr Pompeo had cancelled a meeting with his Indian counterpart in Washington on July 6 in order to fly to Pyongyang, the newspaper reported.

It said Mr Pompeo has assumed the lead role in negotiations, first as CIA director and then as America's chief diplomat.

His visit would mark the first to North Korea since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their June 12 summit in Singapore.

A State Department official would not confirm the newspaper report.

He told Reuters that there were no travels plans to announce.

On Wednesday, Mr Pompeo had told lawmakers that he was confident that North Korea understood the scope of the US desire for complete denuclearisation, as the two countries continue to negotiate following the Singapore summit.

"We have been pretty unambiguous in our conversations about what we mean when we say complete denuclearisation," Mr Pompeo told a Senate appropriations sub-committee hearing on funding for the State Department.

Mr Trump has drawn some criticism from national security analysts for an agreement that emerged from his June 12 summit with Mr Kim.

The summit had few details on how Pyongyang would surrender its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

A day after that summit, Mr Trump said on Twitter that there "is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea".

Mr Pompeo characterised the situation by telling the Senate sub-committee that "we have reduced risk".

Critics in the United States said that the agreement from the meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Kim was very short on detail.

They also said that the Republican president had made too many concessions to Mr Kim, especially agreeing to stop military exercises with South Korea, which the North has long sought.

North Korea is under UN sanctions for its nuclear and weapons programmes and is widely condemned for human rights abuses.

Irish Independent

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