Kim knows denuclearisation must be ‘quick’ before sanction relief: Pompeo
SECRETARY OF STATE ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY CONFUSION AFTER SUMMIT IN SINGAPORE
KIM JONG- UN understands that denuclearisation must happen “quickly”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday, warning there will be no sanctions relief for Pyongyang until the process is complete.
Washington remained committed to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearisation of North Korea, Pompeo added, after the historic US- North Korea summit in Singapore drew criticism for its vague wording on plans for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.
“We believe that Kim Jong-un understands the urgency ... that we must do this quickly,” he said of the effort to have North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons.
Washington’s top diplomat was in Seoul to brief his South Korean and Japanese counterparts after President Donald Trump’s post-summit comments sparked confusion and concern in Tokyo and Seoul.
But Pompeo insisted at a joint press conference with the two countries’ foreign ministers that there was no daylight among the allies on how to achieve the denuclearisation of North Korea.
Contrasting the Trump policy with previous US administrations, Pompeo said: “In the past, they were providing economic and financial relief before ... complete denuclearisation had taken place.”
“That is not going to happen, President Trump made that clear.”
The UN Security Council punished North Korea over its weapons programmes with increasingly strict sanctions last year, which were also backed by China, Pyongyang’s only ally.
Trump said after his meeting with Kim, the first between sitting US and North Korean leaders, that Washington would halt its joint military exercises with South Korea, an announcement that caught Seoul, and apparently the Pentagon, by surprise.
The US and South Korea conduct massive annual military exercises to maintain readiness for operations on the peninsula, a source of irritation for Pyongyang, which considers them preparations for an invasion.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha appeared to sidestep the issue at the joint press conference, saying the matter would be left to military authorities to discuss, and that the US-South Korea alliance remains “as robust as ever”.
“I’m absolutely assured of our shared goal, our shared approach and how we will proceed to reach complete denuclearisation,” she said.
While it is not directly involved, Japan also considers the drills vital.
The “deterrence based on them [plays] an essential role for security in northeast Asia”, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said after “frank” trilateral talks on Thursday.
“The US will advance the discussion on provision of security guarantees while carefully monitoring whether North Korea takes concrete steps to fulfil its commitment to denuclearisation,” Kono added. “No security guarantees have been given yet.”
Pompeo said the suspension of the drills depended on productive negotiations in “good faith”.
Trump raised eyebrows on Tuesday by describing his own country’s drills on the peninsula as “provocative”, a term used by the North for the exercises.
Pyongyang describes its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles as a shield against US aggression, and has in the past linked denuclearisation to the removal of US forces from the peninsula.
North Korea observers were alarmed by the US decision on military drills, given the lack of any guarantees by North Korea at the summit.
After his meetings in Seoul, Pompeo left for Beijing, where he is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
But despite the concern among allies and analysts, the Trump administration continues to tout the summit as a success, and Pompeo said earlier that he hopes to see “major disarmament” of North Korea by 2020.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, centre, speaks as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, look on during a joint press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. The US-South Korea alliance remains “as robust as ever”, Seoul's foreign minister said, two days after US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that Washington will halt its joint military drills with the South.