North Korea nuclear deal: Pompeo sees ‘progress’ after talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says goodbye to Kim Yong-chol at Pyongyang airportImage copyright

Image caption

Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol say goodbye as the US envoy departs for Japan

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says progress has been made after holding talks in North Korea on the country’s plans for nuclear disarmament.

He spoke after meeting Kim Yong-chol, widely seen as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man.

It is the first time that Mr Pompeo has visited North Korea since Kim Jong-un’s summit with US President Donald Trump.

Mr Kim has promised to work towards denuclearisation, but details on how this will be achieved remain thin.

After the Singapore summit, which also saw the US offer “security guarantees” to North Korea and promise to end its military drills with South Korea, Mr Trump claimed that the North no longer posed a nuclear threat.

However, he has since renewed sanctions on North Korea, while US intelligence officials have said there is evidence North Korea continues to upgrade the infrastructure for its nuclear and missile programmes.

A key aim of Mr Pompeo’s two days of talks was to firm up North Korea’s commitment to denuclearisation.

Giving little in the way of fresh information, he said they had discussed at length a timeline for the North’s nuclear disarmament, including the destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

“These are complicated issues, but we made progress on almost all of the central issues, some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said.

A state department spokesperson said Mr Pompeo had been “very firm” in focusing on denuclearisation, as well as on security assurances and another important US demand – the return of remains of US service personnel from the Korean War.

Media captionThe hidden messages in Trump-Kim gestures

The day began with Mr Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol both saying there were things to “clarify”.

Mr Kim joked that Mr Pompeo may not have slept well during his overnight stay at a guesthouse in Pyongyang. Mr Pompeo said he “slept just fine”.

On Sunday, the US secretary of state will meet the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in Tokyo.

North Korea nuclear deal: Pompeo sees ‘progress’ after talks

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