Washington and Pyongyang get down to 'nitty gritty' in nuclear talks

Leroy Wright
July 8, 2018

"We had expected that the USA side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders" summit ... we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures, ' the statement said. Trump even used this nickname to refer to Kim while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in 2017.

A former top U.S. diplomat for Asia, Daniel Russel, said the setback was to be expected and warned Trump he is engaged in a long negotiation that would not produce easy quick, made for television results that the president appears to want. "I look forward to it and I count on it being very productive".

Professor Yang Moo-Jin at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said Pyongyang wants to separate "US bureaucrats from President Trump, expressing trust in him".

The US secretary of state met with Kon Yong-chol, generally seen as Kim Jong-un's right-hand man, in Pyongyang after delivering gifts from Trump which allegedly included an Elton John CD, in a joking reference to a low point in relations when the president called the North Korean dictator "little rocket man".

Kim agreed that the work was important.

Mr Pompeo said he did not meet Mr Kim on his latest visit to Pyongyang, as he had done twice before.

The North's statement, coming so soon after Pompeo's trip, was sure to fuel growing scepticism in the U.S. over how serious Kim Jong-un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal.

North Korean and USA officials held a second day of meetings in Pyongyang on Saturday, with both sides saying there several key issues they need to "clarify".

"We were able to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the continued strengthening of our trilateral cooperation toward the common goal of North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement" of all nuclear weapons and missiles, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told a joint press conference.

Pompeo said both the testing facility issue and recovering US remains still need to be finalized.

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She wouldn't characterize Friday's discussions beyond saying they addressed denuclearization and the repatriation of American remains, saying, "We expect them to live up to their commitments".

And he said some progress had been made towards agreeing "the modalities" of North Korea's destruction of a missile facility.

Pompeo wanted to agree on at least an initial list of nuclear sites and an inventory that could be checked against the available intelligence, USA intelligence officials told Reuters earlier.

A former top USA diplomat for Asia, Daniel Russel, said the setback was to be expected and warned Trump he is engaged in a long negotiation that would not produce easy quick, made for television results that the president likely wants.

Kim, a regime hard-liner who is careful not to act outside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's instructions, said he needed to "clarify" aspects of his almost three-hour negotiations Friday with Pompeo, a desire the top US diplomat immediately echoed.

Both issues are considered essential tests of whether Kim is serious about talks.

He said talks had yielded an agreement to form a "working level" group to oversee day-to-day interactions between the United States and North Korea.

There was no immediate comment on the KCNA statement from the State Department. "(It) will take place at the border and that process will begin to develop over the days that follow", he said as he boarded his plane for Tokyo.

It says pressure will remain until North Korea denuclearizes, but in statements this week, it redefined the US goal as "the final, fully verified denuclearization" of the country. It said the USA side had shown little interest, giving "certain conditions and excuses". The State Department said its policy remains unchanged.

Pompeo left Pyongyang with only the prospect of another round of talks, by Pentagon teams, later this month. Pompeo did not meet with the North Korean leader during his visit and did not secure a shared understanding of the path to denuclearization.

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