US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says North Korea denuclearisation efforts in beginning stages

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Newly sworn-in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he wants the State Department to get its 'swagger back' and said he was committed to dismantling North Korea's nuclear programme 'without delay'.
Pompeo (right), watched by Donald Trump, speaks during his swearing-in ceremony. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on Wednesday (May 2) to seek the swift dismantling of Pyongyang's weapons programme, as he argued that America has a chance to alter the "course of history" in North Korea.

Speaking at his ceremonial swearing-in at the State Department, alongside President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, Pompeo outlined his priorities as he begins work as America's top diplomat.

"Right now we have an unprecedented opportunity to change the course of history on the Korean Peninsula," Pompeo told his new colleagues.

"We're in the beginning stages of the work. And the outcome is certainly yet unknown."

"But one thing is certain," Pompeo said.

"This administration will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Our eyes are wide open. It's time to solve this once and for all - a bad deal is not an option."

"We are committed to the permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction programme, and to do so without delay," said the incoming chief diplomat.

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Some experts have voiced concern that North Korea may be seeking to drag out talks with Washington as a way to buy time, and build up its nuclear arsenal.

"The American people are counting on us to get this right," said Pompeo, who in his former role as CIA chief travelled to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong Un and lay the groundwork for an upcoming summit between Trump and the North Korean leader.

Pompeo's predecessor Rex Tillerson, who advocated widespread cuts to the department, was unceremoniously fired by Trump in March.

The former oilman left the State Department, which includes more than 13,000 foreign service officers, in disarray after many career diplomats quit and morale among the ranks plummeted.

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