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(2nd LD) Pompeo calls on N.K. leader to return to nuclear talks

23:58 August 20, 2019

(ATTN: CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced hope Tuesday that North Korea will return to negotiations to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Pompeo's remark comes as Washington's top envoy to the talks, Stephen Biegun, is in Seoul to meet with South Korean officials over the denuclearization effort.

Speculation has risen that Biegun could also travel to North Korea during his three-day stay in Seoul to meet with his North Korean counterparts and resume negotiations.

This Reuters file photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Yonhap)

"We haven't gotten back to the table as quickly as we would have hoped, but we've been pretty clear all along. We know there will be bumps along the way," Pompeo said in an interview with CBS.

"We hope Chairman Kim will come to the table and get a better outcome. It will be better for the North Korean people. It will be better for the world," he said while discussing the United Nations Security Council's sanctions on the regime.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to restart working-level talks within several weeks when they met at the inter-Korean border on June 30.

The negotiations have stalled since the leaders' second summit in Vietnam in February ended without a deal due to differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

Trump said earlier this month that in a letter to him Kim stated his willingness to resume talks once military exercises between Seoul and Washington are over.

The exercises ended on Tuesday.

Pompeo cited the agreement Trump and Kim reached during their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, saying the North Korean leader said then that he was prepared to denuclearize.

"Our team's effort at the State Department is to deliver that on behalf of the American people," he said. "President Trump's focus is exactly that: to keep the American people safe."

Asked if he was concerned by the North's recent short-range ballistic missile tests, he said, "Yes, I wish that they would not."

Trump has dismissed the series of tests, seen as a protest against the allied drills, saying that while they may be a breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions, they are not a violation of Kim's promise to refrain from long-range missile and nuclear tests.

hague@yna.co.kr
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