Pompeo: 'Progress on agreements' after meeting Kim in N. Korea

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed yesterday to arrange a second summit "as soon as possible" during talks aimed at breaking a gridlock in their nuclear talks.

"North Korea took some steps towards denuclearisation and the USA will face criticism from the global community if it continues to demand complete denuclearisation without any lifting of sanctions", said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

No sitting USA president has ever visited North Korea, which according to human rights groups remains one of the most repressive countries on Earth.

He would not be specific but said he and Kim had agreed to shortly begin working-level talks on the nuts and bolts of denuclearization, on the placement of worldwide inspectors at one of North Korea's main nuclear facilities, and had come close to finalizing a date and venue for the next Kim-Trump summit.

Trump, tweeting from Washington, cited progress on agreements he made with Kim at their June meeting and said, "I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future".

The top U.S. diplomat touched down at Osan Air Base around 5:15 p.m. after wrapping up his visit to Pyongyang.

"It's a very nice day that promises a good future for both countries", Kim said through an interpreter.

Pompeo went to Pyongyang to meet with Kim to work out the details of a second U.S.

Pompeo told South Korean President Moon Jae-in, "I will surely tell you in private about our conversation".

A USA official who was part of Pompeo's delegation said the trip was "better than the last time" but added: "It's going to be a long haul".

Pompeo had flown to Pyongyang from Tokyo after talks there with Japan's prime minister during which he pledged the Trump administration would coordinate and unify its strategy for denuclearization with allies.

Pompeo will also visit Beijing on Monday as he concludes his four-nation visit to the region. He is expected to leave for China on Tuesday.

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US State Secretary Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo's trip to Pyongyang, his fourth this year, followed a stalemate as North Korea resisted Washington's demands for irreversible steps to give up its nuclear arsenal, including a complete inventory of its weapons and facilities.

Still, given the president's newfound expression for Kim - claiming during the U.N. General Assembly that they "fell in love" with the exchange of letters since Singapore - it seems nothing will get in the way of Trump and Kim's desire to meet again.

Pyongyang and Washington have clashed over the sequence of denuclearization measures and corresponding compensation - a repeat of past nuclear negotiations between the two countries.

North and South Korea want a "phased" approach with Pyongyang rewarded as it it happens.

Until recently, Pyongyang has appeared to be increasing its demands.

North Korea has been asking for the United States to formally declare that the 1950-1953 Korean War is formally over, as a way to bring an end to hostile relations between the two countries.

With talks largely deadlocked, at the heart of this round of negotiations is a debate over what the US should demand from North Korea and what it is willing to give in exchange. "It is such an oxymoronic, two-faced behavior'".

After a previous visit to Pyongyang in July, Pompeo had said the two foes made progress on key issues - but within hours of his departure the North condemned "gangster-like" demands from the United States, raising questions over how much the two sides really saw eye to eye. Aside from Pompeo, the US side included Stephen Biegun, the new USA special envoy for North Korea, and Andrew Kim, who heads a Korea working group at the CIA that Pompeo set up while he was running the agency.

Kang said such steps would serve to dispel mistrust between Pyongyang and Washington and speed up negotiations by avoiding the risk of bogging it down over the verification process.

But even on that, he said, "I doubt we'll get it nailed" down on this trip.

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