World

Trump, Pompeo dismiss Kim’s demand for flexibility in nuclear talks

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday brushed aside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's demand for Washington to show more flexibility in nuclear talks by year end, with Mr Pompeo saying Mr Kim should keep his promise to give up his nuclear weapons before then.

Asked about Mr Kim's statement last week that he was interested in meeting Mr Trump only if the US had the right attitude, Mr Pompeo told reporters that Mr Trump was "determined to move forward diplomatically".

But Mr Pompeo said Mr Kim had made a commitment to denuclearise and "we collectively need to see that outcome move forward".

"Our teams are working with the North Koreans... to chart a path forward so that we can get there. He said he wanted it done by the end of the year. I'd love to see that done sooner."

Mr Trump and Mr Kim have met twice, seeming to build goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programmes.

Breaking his silence on the summit in a speech to North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly last Friday, Mr Kim said it was"essential for the US to quit its current calculation method and approach us with a new one".

He added that his personal relationship with Mr Trump was still good, but that he had no interest in a third summit if it were a repeat of Hanoi.

Mr Kim also accused Washington of escalating hostility "despite its suggestion for settling the issue through dialogue" and called the US policy of sanctions and pressure "as foolish, dangerous and like trying to put out fire with oil"

In a speech on Monday in Minnesota, Mr Trump maintained an upbeat tone on North Korea, saying the issue was "moving along" with Pyongyang sticking to a freeze in nuclear and missile testing since 2017.

He again stressed his "very good relationship" with Mr Kim, "who just said the other day he looks forward to more talks."

Mr Trump added he did not want the process to move fast.

"Right now it is moving along just perfectly. And we have a good relationship, the sanctions are on... There is a lot of constructive things going on."

Despite Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo's remarks, US officials have acknowledged that the two sides have failed to agree on a definition of denuclearisation.

And Pyongyang has given no public indication of willingness to abandon its weapons programme. - REUTERS

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