Korean Peninsula: Peace on the Horizon
The US looks likely to reach a compromise with North Korea – if both parties can build trust
“It's a very nice day that promises a good future for both countries,” said a smiling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he sat down for a meal with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a welcome luncheon in Pyongyang on October 7, 2018.
From October 5 to 8, Pompeo visited Japan, North Korea, South Korea and China. Before the luncheon, Pompeo went so far as to put his arm around Kim's shoulder. It was the fourth time the US secretary of state visited Pyongyang this year. The previous time – after the Trump-kim meeting in Singapore – he failed to even secure a meeting with the North Korean leader.
“We had a great, great visit this morning,” Pompeo responded. “President Trump sends his regards. And we had a very successful morning, so thank you.” According to US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, the two discussed a time and place for the next summit between their nation's leaders, and said that North Korea would allow international nuclear inspectors to enter the dismantled Punggye-ri nuclear test site to ensure it will never be used again.
“Had a good trip to Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim. We continue to make progress on agreements made at Singapore Summit,” Pompeo later posted on his Twitter account.
Paving the Road
Despite the Singapore Summit in June 2018 and the release of a joint statement, the two nations have to date failed to resolve their disputes over the outcome of the historic talk.
The US insisted that North Korea dismantle its nuclear programs before any further talks can be held but North Korea's stance is that denuclearization measures and concessions will be matched “action for action.” The negotiations reached a deadlock. Pompeo originally planned to visit North Korea in late August 2018, but canceled the trip because Trump was dissatisfied with the progress of bilateral relations.
One month later, however, Trump announced during the UN General Assembly on September 24 that he was likely to meet Kim Jong-un for a second time soon and that Pompeo would arrange the talks. Several days later, Trump made an odd revelation at a domestic rally that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “fell in love” because of Kim's “beautiful letters.”
On September 26, Pompeo held talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho in New York where he was attending the UN General Assembly. According to the US State Department, it was then that Pompeo accepted Kim's invitation to visit North Korea.
On October 2, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a routine press conference that Pompeo would visit North Korea for the fourth time within a year, which reflected the momentum of bilateral relations, as well as US determination to turn the consensus reached by leaders of
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un welcomes US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang on October 7, 2018