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Trump-Kim summit 'expected' on June 12, U.S. top diplomat says

Thursday - 31/05/2018 19:57
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials opened talks in New York aimed at deciding whether a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can be salvaged. (May 31) AP

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday presented a vision of a "connected and prosperous" North Korea with the nation's envoy during preparations for an expected summit between President Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un.

"If North Korea denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for North Korea," Pompeo told reporters after hours of talks in New York City with the North's Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol. "We envision a strong, connected and prosperous North Korea that maintains its cultural heritage but is integrated in the community of nations."

Pompeo referred to "the expected summit" on June 12 between Trump and spoke of a choice before the North's leadership to take the country in a new direction. Vice Chairman Kim will travel to Washington on Friday to deliver a letter from Chairman Kim to Trump, Pompeo said.

"We sincerely hope that Chairman Kim Jong Un shares this vision for the future," Pompeo said. "It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong Un if we’re able to seize this lifetime opportunity."

Pompeo has been Trump’s point person on North Korea, as director of the CIA and now as secretary of State. He is talking to North Korean leaders while other Trump administration teams meet with their North Korean counterparts in Singapore and in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that has separated North and South Korea since an armistice treaty ended the Korean War in 1953.

Pompeo said he and Kim, the North's former spy chief, had a series of expectations for the summit that they wanted to cover in the talks in New York. "We achieved that," he said.

While the negotiations ahead will be difficult, he said he believes the North's leaders "are contemplating a path forward where they can make a strategic shift, one that their country has not been prepared to make before," Pompeo said.

The Trump administration's goal is to convince the North that although it has long viewed its nuclear weapons program as providing the security it needs, "the real threat to their security is holding on to that nuclear weapons program and not the converse," he said. "We’ve had a lot of convos about that."

The talks have also focused on how to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula "that the world demands and the security assurances that would be required for us to achieve that," Pompeo said.

Pompeo on Wednesday dined on filet mignon with the former spy chief, as he talked of the “bright future" in store for the communist nation if it agrees to abandon its nukes.

Pompeo pointed at the New York City skyline and its landmarks to illustrate his point, during a sumptuous dinner that highlighted American cuisine for Kim’s first visit to the United States.

“We are talking about a brighter future for North Korea if it makes a smart choice,” a senior State Department official told reporters early Thursday morning. The official declined to be identified publicly because of the sensitivity of the talks.

More: Trump says North Korea delegates will deliver letter from Kim about summit

More: Kim Jong Un: North Korea values Russia for opposing U.S. dominance, state media reports

The teams are working on protocol issues for the summit, such as who comes in first and where they sit, as well as on the outcomes they are seeking from a successful summit, the official said.

Trump has vowed he wants the complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea, and his deputies have referred to ending the North’s capacity to produce nuclear fuel, its missile program and its capacity to mass produce nuclear weapons that could target the United States. In return, Trump has offered assurances to Kim that the U.S. would not attack his country and that it would help make Kim rich with U.S. investments and economic development.

Trump authorized his staff to keep planning for the summit after abruptly calling it off last week, citing the North’s “open hostility” in public statements.

The decision of whether to attend the summit will be 100% up to Trump, the State Department officials said.

This photo provided by the U.S. State Department shows the menu signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of the meal he had with North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol, left. The two former spy chiefs met on May 30, 2018, to discuss a proposed summit between President Trump and the North's Chairman Kim Jong Un planned for June 12, 2018. Pompeo spoke of the bright future facing North Korea if it abandons its nuclear weapons program. (Photo: State Department photo)

The State Department provided a photograph of the menu, signed by Pompeo, which described what they ate: Bib lettuce and spring pea salad with burratta and ramp pesto, the filet with a corn puree, blanched celeriac and pan-wilted spinach, and Viennese chocolate souffle with homemade ice cream.

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