US hopes Trump and Kim can hold second summit early next year: Pompeo

WASHINGTON • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has voiced hope that a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can be scheduled for early next year.

"We are hopeful that, in the new year, President Trump and Chairman Kim will get together not too long after the first of the year and make even further progress on taking this (nuclear) threat to the United States away from us," Mr Pompeo said in an interview with KNSS Radio in his home state of Kansas.

Mr Pompeo, who has travelled four times this year to North Korea in search of a breakthrough, said the situation had "undoubtedly" improved since last year's high tensions that led to fears of war. "No more missiles being tested, no more nuclear testing. We're in a better place today," he said.

Mr Trump met Mr Kim in June in Singapore in the first-ever summit between leaders of the two countries that never officially ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Separately, Washington is willing to discuss trust-building initiatives with Pyongyang, a US envoy said yesterday.

Critics say North Korea has made no concrete commitments and is unlikely to surrender its atomic arsenal, while Washington's policy of maintaining pressure through isolation and sanctions has left Pyongyang seething.

"The United States has no intention of easing our unilateral or United Nations sanctions" on Pyongyang, emphasised Mr Stephen Biegun, the US Special Representative for North Korea.

 
 

"However, within the context of the engagement that we have with the DPRK (North Korea), we are prepared to explore a number of other things that could build trust.

"We do have a number of initiatives we'd like to look at as we begin the process of denuclearisation in North Korea," Mr Biegun said.

The US envoy declined to detail the initiatives, but he has previously said Washington will be more lenient in enforcing a blanket travel ban in cases where Americans are heading to North Korea for humanitarian assistance.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'US hopes Trump and Kim can hold second summit early next year: Pompeo'. Print Edition | Subscribe