Pompeo in North Korea for pre-summit meetings


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was travelling to North Korea today in preparation for an upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

US officials have been pressing Kim to free the three remaining American detainees as a gesture of sincerity before the summit, the first-ever meeting of sitting USA and North Korean leaders.

"Plans are being made, relationships are building", Trump said.

The main goal of Pompeo's visit to North Korea is to finalise an exact time and location for the summit between Trump and the North Korean leader, how long their talks will last and to clarify expectations.

"We have our meeting set".

He later said that a "good relationship" was formed at the meeting in April, which marked the highest level U.S. contact with North Korea since 2000.

He added: "We will see how it all works out". Maybe it will, maybe it won't. "And with the help of China, South Korea and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone", Trump added.

Also signaling a more hard-line approach, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said negotiations would also include North Korea's ballistic missiles as well as biological and chemical weapons programs and its abduction of foreign citizens.

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Speaking to reporters accompanying him on the unannounced trip, the secretary of state said he expected to meet with "the most senior leaders" in Pyongyang, including possibly Kim himself. At the urging of the Trump administration, China grudgingly voted previous year for United Nations sanctions that have hurt the North's economy, draining its reserves of foreign currency.

Pompeo said his trip aimed first and foremost to nail down a "framework for a successful summit between the two presidents" - including an agenda, a precise date and time and specific venue. "We will not relieve sanctions until such time as we have achieved our objectives".

"We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure", he warned. The first was Madeleine Albright in 2000 who went as part of an unsuccessful bid to arrange a meeting between then-President Bill Clinton and Kim's father Kim Jong Il.

In addition to planning the summit, Pompeo has been pressing the regime to free three detained USA citizens.

Speaking to USA reporters en route to Pyongyang, Pompeo said he would raise the issue of the three imprisoned Americans during his talks and hoped that North Korea would "do the right thing". "We'll talk about it again". "I think it'd be a great gesture if they would choose to do so".

It's Pompeo's second known visit to the country.

Pompeo's latest visit followed talks between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met on April 27 at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries, the first summit for the two Koreas in over a decade. Pyongyang has been disgruntled over what it called "misleading" assertions from some U.S. officials that North Korea is considering denuclearisation because of its fear of USA military prowess and to alleviate punishing sanctions - a "maximum pressure campaign" laid by Pompeo's predecessor, Rex Tillerson, who was sacked by Trump in March.

"The secretary is clear-eyed about not repeating the mistakes of the past", the official said. Previous U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the North's nuclear weapons program failed under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. That is not convincing evidence of dismantling their nuclear program.