Pompeo in N Korea to finalize summit, seek Americans’ release

Pompeo in N Korea to finalize summit, seek Americans’ release

PYONGYANG-Agence France-Presse
Pompeo in N Korea to finalize summit, seek Americans’ release

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to North Korea yesterday to finalize plans for a historic summit between President Donald Trump and the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

U.S. officials said Pompeo will also press North Korea for the release of three detained American citizens, whose imminent release Trump has been hinting at.

Pompeo’s visit also comes as a tripartite meeting of East Asia’s major powers takes place in Tokyo, with Japan, South Korea and China groping for a lowest-common-denominator agreement on recent events.

Pompeo discussed the agenda for a potential summit in a meeting with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea’s ruling party.

Later, at a lunch of poached fish and duck hosted by Kim Yong Chol, Pompeo said the senior official had been a great partner in working to make the summit a success.

“For decades, we have been adversaries. Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict,” Pompeo said, adding that “there are many challenges along the way.”

Kim noted the improved relations between the Koreas, as well as the North’s policy to “concentrate all efforts into economic progress” in the country.

“This is not a result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside,” he added, citing the will of the Korean people. Trump has said that his pressure tactics brought North Korea to the negotiating table.

The trip, Pompeo’s second to North Korea this year, had not been publicly disclosed when he flew out of Washington under cover of darkness late Monday aboard an Air Force 757.

His visit also comes as rumors fly over the fate of three U.S. citizens being held in the North, with suggestions they may have been moved in preparation for a release.

Previous detainees have been set free into the care of high profile U.S. visitors.

Tripartite meeting in Tokyo

China, Japan and South Korea agreed yesterday to cooperate on ending North Korea’s nuclear program and promoting free trade, two hot-button issues challenging their region.

The agreements came at the first summit for the Northeast Asian neighbors after a hiatus of more than two years, bringing together Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Abe said they discussed how they can get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, but he didn’t provide any further details. China and Japan, in particular, have differences over how best to achieve North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.