About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Update at 2000 KST: This article has been amended with the latest developments on Pompeo’s visit
North Korean and U.S. officials held a second day of meetings in Pyongyang on Saturday, with both sides saying there several key issues they need to “clarify.”
Today’s meeting follows three hours of talks at the Baekhwawon state guest house in Pyongyang on Friday, following the U.S. delegation’s arrival in Pyongyang just before noon.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday said the Trump administration considered the meeting “very important” as the “first senior-level face-to-face meeting” between Pyongyang and Washington since June’s DPRK-U.S. summit.
“President Trump is committed to a brighter future for North Korea,” Pompeo was quoted as having said in the pool report.
“So the work that we do, the path toward complete denuclearization, building a relationship between our two countries, is vital for a brighter North Korea and the success that our two presidents demand of us,” he added.
Senior North Korea official Kim Yong Chol agreed with Pompeo’s remarks, adding that there were areas which Pyongyang needed to shed light on.
“Of course, it is important. There are things that I have to clarify,” Kim, who serves as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), said.
“There are things that I have to clarify as well,” Pompeo responded.
The U.S. delegation, led by Pompeo, included U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and Head of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center Andrew Kim.
Director for Korea policy at the National Security Council (NSC) Allison Hooker and Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Alex Wong were also present.
On the North Korean side, deputy director general for North American affairs at the DPRK foreign ministry Choe Kang Il and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui, among others, accompanied Kim Yong Chol.
At the beginning of the meeting, Kim Yong Chol said both sides held “a very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday.”
When Kim added Pompeo “might not have slept well last night” following Friday’s discussions, the top U.S. diplomat said he “slept just fine” and that he agreed the two sides “did have a good set of conversations.”
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Saturday said U.S. and North Korean officials have established a working group to deal with the “nitty-gritty stuff,” according to pool reporters accompanying Pompeo.
Among these issues, she added, will be verifying the North’s efforts to achieve denuclearization.
Secretary of State Pompeo on Friday also said his visit would see him seek to flesh out the DPRK-U.S. joint agreement, explaining that “consolation has continued” since the June meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“On this trip I’m seeking to fill in some details on these commitments and continue the momentum towards implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world,” Pompeo said. “I expect that the DPRK is ready to do the same,”
Saturday saw Nauert say discussions had also involved the issue of the repatriation of U.S. service members who died during the Korean War.
June’s Singapore Declaration saw both countries agree to recover the remains of prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”
Pompeo was set to make a secure phone call to debrief U.S. President Donald Trump on the talks, the pool report said earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Saturday reported the arrival of a “delegation of the United States of America led by State Secretary Mike Pompeo.”
“The delegation is to take part in the first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks for implementing the joint statement adopted and made public at the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” KCNA said in an English-language report.
The U.S. delegation left Pyongyang later in the day, with the Secretary of State due to hold a three-way press conference in Tokyo with South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Sunday.
Speaking to pool reporters before leaving the DPRK, Pompeo said the two men had spent “a good deal of time” on the topic of North Korea’s denuclearization.
“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all the central issues,” the Secretary of State said. “Some places, a great deal of progress, other places, there’s still more work to be done.”
But this week’s visit to the North – Pompeo’s third this year – did not see him meet with Kim Jong Un, contrary to initial plans for the trip.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: U.S. State Department