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Pompeo, Japanese counterpart meet on North Korea

11 July 2018

While President Moon Jae-in's so-called "three-belts" transport plan would benefit the North, given the poor state of its infrastructure, what the regime in the Pyongyang really wants is to ramp up special economic zones across the country, said Kim Byeong-uk.

Pompeo's third trip to North Korea, which he has visited more than any other country during his tenure as secretary, was supposed to turn these promises into actual results.

Kim Jong-un is still committed to denuclearization, Pompeo answered when asked about recent satellite imagery showing the North was expanding its missile development facilities.

Leaked U.S. intelligence findings have concluded that North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear programme completely.

Kim Jong Un put potatoes ahead of Mike Pompeo during a U.S. visit to agree denuclearisation details, state media has suggested. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he believes that China is behind North Korea's latest shift in tone.

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Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress, but as soon as he left, the North's foreign ministry berated him over his "unilateral and gangster-like" demands and for offering no constructive steps on the US side.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's private plane arrives at Incheon International Airport, in this photo taken in February.

Trump's suggestion that China was behind North Korea's tougher stance on denuclearisation talks echoes a comment by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday.

The tone was in stark comparison to Mr Pompeo's characterisation of the talks he held in Pyongyang as a success, though critically he failed to present any new details as to how North Korea would honor its summit commitment to "denuclearise" in exchange for USA security guarantees.

The White House had said Pompeo would meet with the leader, but the encounter did not materialize, and the top USA diplomat only met with Kim Yong Chol.

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The Japanese top diplomat thanked Pompeo for raising the issue of Japanese nationals abducted to the North decades ago in his meeting with North Koreans.

The term "denuclearization", mean different things to Washington and Pyongyang, analysts say.

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"If those requests were gangster-like then the world is a gangster because it was a unanimous decision at the UNSC about what needs to be achieved", he added, referring to the United Nations Security Council's crippling sanctions regime against the North.

Trump had previously linked China's cooperation on pressuring North Korea to the bilateral trade relationship, saying in an interview in December that "I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war".

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The secretary of state acknowledged that "the road ahead will be hard and challenging" and vowed to keep punishing economic sanctions in place "until final fully verified denuclearization" is achieved.

Pompeo, Japanese counterpart meet on North Korea