U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday told North Korean officials the U.S. government was “committed” to working with Pyongyang on achieving peace on the Korean peninsula.
Speaking in Pyongyang at a luncheon led by Kim Yong Chol, the head of the DPRK’s United Front Department, the Secretary of State said the U.S. government was hoping to help resolve the longstanding conflict between the two countries.
“For decades, we have been adversaries,” Pompeo was quoted as having said in pool reports carried by Reuters. “Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict, take away threats to the world and make your country have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve.”
His speech followed remarks by DPRK official Kim, who told the Secretary of State “I have high expectations the United States will play a very big role in establishing peace on the Korean peninsula.”
In response, Pompeo said the U.S. was “equally committed to working with you to achieve” peace.
The Secretary of State’s surprise visit to North Korea was announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a speech in which he announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal.
The trip is intended to finalize plans for an upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, slated to take place later in the month or in early June.
It is Pompeo’s second to North Korea: he made a secret trip in early April in his capacity as then-Director of the CIA and met with Kim Jong Un.
At a press conference at Yokota Air Base, Japan before flying to the DPRK, Pompeo told reporters his visit would seek to “set out the conditions” for the summit.
But the visit has also raised speculation that Pompeo may use the trip to secure the release of Kim Sang-duk (also known as Tony Kim), Kim Hak-song, and Kim Dong-chul: three U.S. citizens who remain in North Korean custody.
An unnamed official from South Korea’s Blue House was quoted on Wednesday as having said that Seoul expected the North to imminently release the three men.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson, however, later told NK News that there were, as yet, no updates on the prisoners.
Featured image: U.S. Department of State