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Pompeo: 'Chairman Kim Is the Kind of Leader' Who Can 'Change the Course for the World'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses reporters at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on May 31, 2018. (State Department photo)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emerged from meeting with North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol today in New York “confident we’re moving in the right direction.”

After the meeting, North Korea’s former spy chief headed to Washington with the intent Friday to deliver a personal letter from Kim Jong-un to the White House.

Pompeo reiterated the State Department’s insistence that “the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” be the goal.

“President Trump has also made it clear that if Kim Jong-un denuclearizes there is a brighter path for North Korea. We envision a strong, connected and secure prosperous North Korea that maintains its cultural heritage, but is integrated into the community of nations,” he told reporters. “We think that working together, the people of the United States and North Korea can create a future defined by friendship and collaboration, not by mistrust, and fear and threats. We sincerely hope that Chairman Kim Jong-un shares this positive vision for the future.”

“We expect both leaders to enter the summit of Singapore that proceeds with their eyes wide open and with a clear understanding of the possibilities for the future. If these talks are successful it will truly be historic. It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong-un if we are able to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the course for the world. President Trump and I believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those kinds of decisions, and that in the coming weeks and months we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case.”

Pompeo said that “there remains a great deal of work to do,” but “we had all the time we needed today to make the progress that was achievable during our time here in New York City.”

“If we’re able to achieve it, if the North Koreans are prepared in fact to denuclearize — this includes all elements of their nuclear program. If we convince them of that, then in fact their security is greater. Then in fact the real threat to their security is the continue holding on to of that nuclear weapons program, and not the converse. We’ve had lots of conversations around that,” he said. “The true test of course comes when we actually achieve this, but many conversations have been had about how we might perceive what the path might be forward, so that we can achieve both the denuclearization that the world demands of North Korea, and the security assurances that would be required for them to allow us to achieve that.”

Pompeo said he didn’t know yet if the June 12 summit was back on.

“The conditions are putting President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in a place where we think there could be real progress made by the two of them meeting,” he said.

The secretary stressed that he’s “not going to talk about — today, nor at any time during the negotiations — about the elements of what the shape of the agreement looks like.”

He did say “there is no daylight between the South Koreans, the Japanese and the United States with respect to our approach to how we resolve this issue with respect to North Korea.”

Asked about the potential threat to the region from a China power vacuum, Pompeo said, “The Chinese are moving all around the world today. Let’s be clear. The risk of that is real everywhere, not just in this particular space. We’re keenly aware of it.”

“And I am confident that the things we’re talking about with respect to North Korea will not enhance the risk of that to any significant degree. We wouldn’t do that to the South Koreans or the Japanese, two of our most important allies in the region.”