Pompeo says progress made with North Korea amid denuclearisation talks

Tension on display as US delegation meets with North Korea for second day

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The North Korean Foreign Ministry on Saturday criticized recent talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling them "regrettable" and accusing the U.S. of issuing unilateral demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

Devin, just hours after Pompeo wrapped up his third visit to the North, Pyongyang released a statement from an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesperson on its state-run media Korea Central News Agency, slamming the USA for what he called their "gangster-like" unilateral demands.

Pompeo and other USA officials are meeting with North Korean officials in Pyongyang to hammer out details on dismantling North Korea's nuclear program.

Pompeo downplayed North Korea's statement after the talks in which the country's foreign ministry bashed hopes for a quick deal and accused the USA of making "gangster-like" demands aimed at forcing it to abandon nuclear weapons.

Pompeo's latest trip to North Korea has drawn particular attention because it was the first high-level meeting to discuss specific steps to denuclearize the North following the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.

Pompeo held more than eight hours of talks with North Korean officials in Pyongyang from Friday, seeking to flesh out a bare bones deal made by U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim last month.

Pompeo sought to dispel suggestions that the Trump administration has backed down from demanding the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North's nuclear weapons. "If it's not true, then we go back to the other way, but I don't think that's going to be necessary".

"First, let's get a wrap up of Secretary Pompeo's meeting in Pyongyang, and what we know so far. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there's still more work to be done", he said.

Nauert on Saturday told reporters that Pompeo did not meet Kim during this visit to North Korea but also that they had not expected him to. "There are things that I have to clarify", he said. "The miracle could be yours; it can be your miracle in North Korea as well".

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"Particularly, they have suggested that they are disappointed by the U.S. insistence on focusing on the denuclearisation plans over what they described as big-picture issues", she said.

Pompeo said the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on repatriation, and also discussed "modalities" for the destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

But earlier, in Tokyo, Pompeo said sanctions will remain in place on North Korea "until final, fully verified denuclearization as agreed to by Chairman Kim occurs". There are signs that North Korea has been expanding some missile manufacturing sites.

Speaking later to members of the US-Vietnamese business community in Hanoi, Mr Pompeo called on Mr Kim to replicate Vietnam's "miracle" of economic growth by improving ties with the US, vowing that America keeps its promises with former foes.

During the news conference in Tokyo, Pompeo emphasized that his conversations with North Korean leaders were "productive" and "progress" has been made during his talks with North Korean officials.

Not even a month ago, Trump was tweeting that the North Korea nuclear problem was all but solved, and that Americans could finally rest easy thanks to his breakthrough in talks with Kim.

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs during which he has met with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo spent the night at a government guesthouse in Pyongyang and did not see the North Korean leader, although USA officials had suggested such a meeting was expected. The contrasting comments raised questions over whether North Korea is committed to abandoning the nuclear programs it has developed for decades and has seen as key to its survival. Yet Pompeo himself had earlier said he envisioned that occurring in about two and a half years, by the end of Trump's term, and Nauert later said the United States wasn't putting a timeline on the process.

However, the president has since renewed sanctions on North Korea, while USA intelligence officials have said there is evidence North Korea continues to upgrade the infrastructure for its nuclear and missile programmes. We sell them $100 billion, they sell is $500 billion, we can hurt them more than they will hurt us.

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