By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- Talks between the United States and North Korea have gone quiet publicly but there are efforts under way with North Koreans to find an opportunity, possibly for a resumption of their dialogue, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.
Pompeo's remark comes amid a long hiatus in denuclearization negotiations with the communist state following three meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018 and 2019.
"We did have hopes that we could make further progress, that Chairman Kim would go in a different direction," the top U.S. diplomat said in a webinar hosted by Washington-based Atlantic Council.
Trump and Kim held the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit in June 2018, in which they signed a four-point agreement that stated Pyongyang's commitment to full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for a security guarantee.
Their second summit, held in February 2019, however, ended without a deal. The leaders met again briefly in June 2019 inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates South and North Korea. Their talks have stalled since.
Pompeo sounded optimistic.
"I am still optimistic that it's gone quiet publicly, but there's still lots of work going on, work going on between ourselves, our allies in the region -- the Japanese and South Koreans -- and even efforts with the North Koreans to come to understand where there may be opportunity as time goes on," he told the virtual seminar.
Many had suspected that Kim may agree to an "October surprise" meeting with Trump ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election. Others believe the North may wait to first see the outcome of the U.S. election, also refraining from military provocations.
The communist state last staged a nuclear test in September 2017, followed by a series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches that lasted until November that year. The North has not fired a long-range missile since.