Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kim Jong-un, left, walks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in this photo tweeted by Pompeo, Oct 7, 2018. The US top diplomat said he met the DPRK leader during his fourth trip to the country on Sunday. (PHOTO @SECPOMPEO / TWITTER)
SEOUL/TOKYO – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday he met leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un during his trip to Pyongyang, aimed at breaking a stalemate in nuclear negotiations between the two countries.
Shortly after arriving in the Republic of Korea (ROK) following the visit, Pompeo posted a photo of himself walking along with Kim on Twitter, saying: "Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim.”
Pompeo flew to Pyongyang from Tokyo after talks there with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during which he pledged the Trump administration would coordinate and unify its strategy for denuclearization with allies
Pompeo tweeted on his arrival in Seoul that he had met with Kim and that they "continue to make progress on agreements made at Singapore Summit."
He said, "Thanks for hosting me and my team."
It was Pompeo’s his fourth visit to the DPRK.
Pompeo had flown to Pyongyang from Tokyo after talks there with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during which he pledged the Trump administration would coordinate and unify its strategy for denuclearization with allies.
The US top diplomat’s meeting with Abe was aimed to try to unify the countries' positions as he looks to arrange a second summit between President Donald Trump and the DPRK leader and chart a path toward denuclearization.
Japan has been wary of Trump's initiative, fearing it could affect its long-standing security relationship with the US.
Pompeo said it was important to hear from the Japanese leader "so we have a fully coordinated and unified view." Pompeo also pledged that during his meeting with Kim on Sunday, he would raise the cases of Japanese citizens abducted by the DPRK.
"It is important for us to hear from you as I travel to Pyongyang to make sure that we are fully in sync with respect to missile programs, (chemical and biological weapons) programs," Pompeo told Abe. "We will bring up the issue of the abductees as well and then we will share with you how we hope to proceed when we are in Pyongyang tomorrow."
Trump, who met with Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore in a historic summit, is pressing to meet with Kim for a second time. He canceled Pompeo's initial planned return to the DPRK last month.
In contrast with the ROK, where President Moon Jae-in has been at the forefront of encouraging Trump's rapprochement with the DPRK, Japan has been decidedly cautious, insisting its interests and concerns be addressed.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, speak during a meeting at Abe's office in Tokyo, Oct 6, 2018. Pompeo has arrived in Tokyo for talks with Japanese officials ahead of his trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (AP PHOTO/EUGENE HOSHIKO, POOL)
Abe did not speak of differences but highlighted the importance of demonstrating to the world that the US-Japan alliance is "more robust than ever" and stressing the importance of "thorough coordination" with Washington on all aspects of DPRK policy.
The US and Japan have pushed for the DPRK to compile and turn over a detailed list of its nuclear sites to be dismantled as a next step in the process.
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Japan's foreign minister, Taro Kano, said the accounting continues to be a priority for his country. "Disclosing all nuclear inventories is the first step toward denuclearization," he told reporters after Pompeo wrapped up his meeting in Tokyo.
Kono also said he and Pompeo didn't go into details of a possible war-end declaration because it's premature. "We are not even talking about whether to do it or not," he said. "It's not an issue that we are even considering."
The DPRK so far has suspended nuclear and missile tests, freed three American prisoners and dismantled parts of a missile engine facility and tunnel entrances at a nuclear test site.
Pyongyang has accused Washington of making "unilateral and gangster-like" demands on denuclearization and insisted that sanctions should be lifted before any progress in nuclear talks. US officials have thus far said sanctions will remain in place until the DPRK’s denuclearization is fully verified.
HONG KONG NEWS