US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program is a “lengthy process,” amid concerns in Washington over stalled denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.
In an interview with a Kansas-based radio network, Pompeo said improving inter-Korean relations should move “in parallel” with progress on denuclearization, and establishing a working group with South Korea aims to serve that purpose.
Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since Pompeo’s planned meeting with a senior North Korean official in New York was abruptly canceled earlier this month. US President Donald Trump later said the talks would be rescheduled, but gave no details on why the meeting was called off.
“(Negotiating with North Korea) will take time. We are prepared to be patient,” Pompeo said in an interview with KFDI News on Sunday, stressing that sanctions pressure on North Korea will remain in place.
“(The US-South Korea) working group is designed to make sure that that effort — that effort to restore peace on the peninsula — moves in parallel with the denuclearization discussions. We are in lock step with our Republic of Korea partners and we want to make sure we stay that way.”
|US State Secretary Mike Pompeo. Yonhap|
Asked about the “ultramodern tactical weapon” that North Korea claimed to have tested this month, Pompeo said the US acknowledged what North Korea’s intention is, though he could not go into detail.
The US has been seeking to maintain the momentum of talks by scaling down the scope of joint military exercises with South Korea. However, North Korea has appeared reluctant to engage in talks with Washington, with the latest example being its reported rejection of the US’ proposal to hold talks in New York this week.
According to diplomatic sources here, North Korea has yet to respond to the US’ request for a high-meeting meeting after the Thanksgiving holiday. The two sides had planned to use the meeting to discuss a second US-North Korea summit tentatively scheduled for next year after the planned high-level talks in New York failed to materialize earlier this month.
The US has recently taken a series of conciliatory measures toward North Korea. After reducing the scope of next year’s Foal Eagle exercise, the US approved the two Koreas’ plan to conduct a joint field study on connecting inter-Korean railways.