Pompeo heads to North Korea for nuclear talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left is preparing his fourth trip to North Korea where he will meet leader Kim Jong Un

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left is preparing his fourth trip to North Korea where he will meet leader Kim Jong Un More

Pompeo said the day of the Trump-Kim summit he was hopeful there would be major North Korean disarmament by the end of Trump's term in January 2021.

Kang told reporters Thursday that she expects the US and North Korea will hold concrete discussions on a denuclearization process while keeping in mind the possibility of bringing their leaders together again.

According to South Korean government reports, North is believed to have produced 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of weaponized plutonium, enough for at least eight bombs.

"We're not playing the time game", Trump told reporters September 26.

Rep. Yoon Young-seok, a spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said in a statement that the two Koreas should reunify under the South's free democratic system and urged North Korea's complete denuclearization.

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"I'm very happy to be going back to get another chance to continue to advance the commitment that Chairman Kim and President Trump made back in Singapore in the second week of June", Pompeo told a news briefing at the State Department. North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, told the United Nations last week that "there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first". That was Kim and Moon's third meeting this year as they work to resolve the nuclear standoff following a torrid run of North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

But North Korea has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear arsenal, so there's been no let-up in sanctions that have been imposed to deprive it of fuel and revenue for its weapons programs, and to block it from bulk cash transfers and accessing to the global banking system.

Pompeo has been a vocal advocate of maintaining maximum pressure and sanctions on North Korea until it has made clear and significant moves to denuclearize.

Earlier that day, North Korea's Ri struck a different tone, telling the United Nations that continued USA sanctions were deepening Pyongyang's mistrust in the United States and there was no way the country would disarm unilaterally under such circumstances.

Sustained fighting in the Korean War ended with a truce in 1953, but a formal peace treaty has never been signed.

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Pompeo has refused to comment on the declaration option.

Ri's meeting with Pompeo drew a great deal of media coverage outside North Korea due to Pompeo's subsequent announcement that he would visit Pyongyang in October to set up another summit between Kim and Trump.

Stressing the importance of stopping the further production of nuclear materials at the Yongbyon facility, she added: "We will have to see an inventory at some point, but that some point can be reached more expeditiously by action and corresponding measures that give the two sides sufficient trust".

Information for this article was contributed by Matthew Pennington of The Associated Press; and by John Hudson of The Washington Post.

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