U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised ongoing “progress” in talks with North Korea made during recent high-level discussions in Washington and Stockholm.
Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland remotely from Washington, the Secretary of State said ongoing discussions with DPRK had been productive, though also maintained there was a lot of work still left to do.
“When Kim Yong Chol visited Washington last week, we made further progress not only in the discussions that he had with the President, but Special Representative Biegun had the opportunity to meet with his newly designated counterpart as well,” Pompeo said.
“And so we have a handful of weeks before the two leaders will meet together again. A set of discussions that took place in Sweden over the weekend have now wrapped up. Again, a little bit more progress.”
The comments follow a visit from senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, who held talks with both Pompeo and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on January 18.
Pompeo also discussed the possibility of private sector investment in North Korea, saying that while it seemed unlikely under present conditions, a denuclearized North Korea would need large scale infrastructure upgrades in which private companies could play a role.
“The North Koreans understand they need, whether that’s power for the people of the country, whether it’s to install the infrastructure that is so desperately needed in North Korea,” Pompeo told delegates World Economic Forum.
“Those things will certainly have a government component to them, but there’ll be an enormous private sector push that will be required to achieve the economic growth in North Korea.”
The U.S. Secretary of State added the private sector could be an “important player” in stabilizing North Korea and in the “final stages” of a denuclearization deal.
Pompeo added that after the planned second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, Washington would have another “good marker along the way” to North Korea’s denuclearization.
The summit is currently scheduled for the end of February, the White House said on January 18, though a location for the meeting has not yet been announced.
Washington’s more upbeat tone comes after several months of seemingly slower moving negotiations between the two sides, with North Korea calling for sanctions relief while the U.S. maintained that international restrictions must remain in place until the DPRK is fully denuclearized.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Mike Pompeo’s Twitter