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Trump wants another NK summit only if progress is likely: Pompeo

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and US President Donald Trump (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and US President Donald Trump (KCNA-Yonhap)

WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump would hold another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un only if the two sides are likely to make progress on the agreement they reached during their first summit in Singapore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

Pompeo dismissed the notion that the leaders could meet again before the US presidential election in November, suggesting there isn't enough time before then.

But he said there is more discussion taking place between Washington and Pyongyang than publicly noticed and expressed hope they will have senior-level discussions "before too long."

"It's now July. I think (a summit before the election)'s unlikely, but in the event that it was appropriate -- we thought we could make material progress and the best way to do that was to put President Trump with Chairman Kim to do it -- I'm confident that the North Koreans and President Trump would find that in our best interests," Pompeo said in virtual remarks to the Economic Club of New York.

Trump and Kim agreed during their first summit in Singapore in June 2018 to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and improving bilateral ties.

Efforts to implement the deal stalled after the second summit in Vietnam in February 2019, which collapsed due to wide differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the US The third and last time the two met was inside the Demilitarized Zone on the inter-Korean border in June 2019.

Talk of a fourth meeting gained traction after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said last month that he would work to make one happen before the US presidential election.

And Trump told Gray Television last week that he would meet again with Kim if he thought it was going to be "helpful."

"The North Koreans have given mixed signals, but the truth is President Trump only wants to engage in a summit if we believe there is a sufficient likelihood that we can make real progress in achieving the outcomes that were set forth in Singapore," Pompeo said earlier Wednesday during a virtual event hosted by The Hill.

"We're trying to have informed discussions with the North Koreans ... but you need to have a willing partner, and the North Koreans have chosen at this point in time not to engage in a way that can lead to a potential solution," he said, expressing hope that the North Koreans will "change their mind."

The North Koreans have repeatedly said they have no interest in sitting face-to-face with the Americans as long a the US sticks to its positions.

On Friday, Kim's sister, Yo-jong, issued a statement saying another summit this year is "unlikely."

"I am of the view that the DPRK-US summit talks are not needed this year and beyond, and for our part, it is not beneficial to us unless the US shows decisive change in its stand," she said, using the acronym for North Korea's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Her comments came shortly after Pompeo had appeared to leave open the possibility a fourth Trump-Kim meeting, telling reporters that the US was hopeful about continuing conversations, whether they were at levels beneath the summit or, if appropriate, by having "senior leaders" get back together as well.

"We look forward to engaging them in dialogue, so that we can get to the right outcome," Pompeo told The Hill on Wednesday.

"We need to do that. We need to do so in a way that is completely verifiable," he said, referring to North Korea's denuclearization. (Yonhap)