WASHINGTON, DC — The Trump administration remains “optimistic” that it will be able to convince North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to take steps towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for sanctions relief, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers Thursday.
His comments came soon after the White House canceled the June 12 summit between President Trump and Kim.
Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
When I heard back from him [Kim], there was little doubt in my mind that he understood the scope of what it was we were asking for — the nature of what would have to take place. The verification that we would need to undertake in order to be comfortable that we can begin to deliver the assurances that he in return asked for.
I think we were having a real conversation where there was a real understanding between the two of us. It’s what caused me to recommend to the president that I thought the time would, in fact, permit us to have a real opportunity to do something historic and I’m still optimistic that we will reach that point. I know the president is as well.
The secretary indicated that he “made it crystal clear” and Kim “fully understands what dismantlement means in terms of these negotiations.”
Pompeo told Senators Kim “basically accepted” America’s terms.
The secretary stressed that the Trump administration would keep the diplomatic and economic sanctions pressure on North Korea until it takes significant steps taken towards complete, verifiable, irreversible de-nuclearization.
Pompeo pointed out:
[The Chinese foreign ministry] assured me that they would continue to abide by all the U.N. security council resolutions relating to this to and that they understood that those needed to remain in place … until such time as we achieve what it was the Americans and I think frankly that China agrees would be the outcome that is best for the world and is best for North Korea as well.
In a letter to Kim announcing his decision to suspend the upcoming meeting, President Trump cited the dictator’s “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement” as the reason.
“I regret the statements that North Koreans have made over the past few days and the fact that we’ve not been able to conduct the preparations between our two teams that would be necessary to have a chance for a successful summit,” Pompeo said.