WASHINGTON • United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he will not put a timeline on negotiations for North Korea's denuclearisation, contradicting a senior defence official who said Washington would soon present a timeline to North Korea with "specific tasks".
Speaking to CNN in a telephone interview on Sunday and reported by the network on Monday, Mr Pompeo said he wanted to see continued progress towards North Korean denuclearisation and that the administration would regularly assess Pyongyang's seriousness about abandoning its nuclear programme.
"I am not going to put a timeline on it, whether that's two months, six months, we are committed to moving forward in an expeditious moment to see if we can achieve what both leaders set out to do," he told CNN, referring to a June 12 Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. His remarks contrasted sharply with comments from a senior defence official who briefed reporters ahead of a trip to Asia by US Secretary of Defence James Mattis and said the US would soon present a timeline to North Korea with "specific tasks".
Mr Pompeo himself told reporters the day after the Singapore summit that Washington hoped to achieve "major disarmament" by North Korea within Mr Trump's current term, which ends on Jan 20, 2021.
CNN said Mr Pompeo suggested it was too soon to expect a detailed roadmap but insisted that Mr Kim had been "unequivocal" about his willingness to denuclearise. "There are understandings that have been put together prior to the summit, some that took place when the President was in Singapore that I think put us on the right trajectory so that we can build out a framework for success," Mr Pompeo said.
Mr Pompeo said he wanted to see continued progress towards North Korean denuclearisation and that the administration would regularly assess Pyongyang's seriousness about abandoning its nuclear programme.