US hopes for 'major' N. Korea disarmament by 2020: Pompeo
SAUL LOEB (AFP)
The US hopes to see "major disarmament" of nuclear-armed North Korea by the end of President Donald Trump's first term in 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday in Seoul.
Speaking the day after an unprecedented summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo told reporters negotiations on Pyongyang's atomic arsenal could move forward quickly and would take place "most certainly in the president's first term."
"Major disarmament... We're hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and half years," he said, adding that there is "a lot of work left to do".
At the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the US and North Korea on Tuesday in Singapore, Trump and Kim pledged in a joint statement to work toward the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."
However this stock phrase, favored by Pyongyang, stopped short of longstanding US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.
When questioned on the wording of the statement, Pompeo said Wednesday that Trump's intention was to allow the US the opportunity to pursue further productive conversations on the issue with Pyongyang.
"Let me assure you that 'complete' encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned. One can't completely denuclearize without validating, authenticating," he said.
Critics have said the encounter between Trump and Kim was more style than substance, producing a document short on details about the key issue of the North's atomic weapons.
Pompeo also said he anticipates the US would next speak to North Korean officials "fairly quickly after we return to our home countries", adding that he was "very confident" that some form of engagement between the two sides would take place in the next week.
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