U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said there were no immediate plans for further meetings with North Korea, though appeared optimistic they could happen at a later date.
Pompeo made the comments during a presser aboard a flight from Hanoi to the Phillippines, following the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump which ended with no new agreement.
“We haven’t set a date. My sense is it will take a little while. We’ll each need to regroup a little bit,” Pompeo told reporters.
“But I’m very hopeful that Special Representative (Stephen) Biegun and that team will get together before too long … But we’ll see … there has to be a reason for the conversations.”
The negotiations between the two sides fell apart over sanctions, Trump said at a press conference after the summit.
North Korea wanted all restrictions against the country lifted, but weren’t willing to give Washington the “areas” they wanted with regards denuclearization, Trump said.
“We just felt it wasn’t appropriate to sign an agreement today… we could have, but I just felt it wasn’t very appropriate,” Trump told reporters.
“You always have to be prepared to walk,” he later said.
But despite the impasse, Pompeo indicated that some progress was made both in the run-up to the summit and during the negotiations.
“There has to be a theory of the case about how to move forward,” Pompeo told reporters.
“I’m confident that there is one. I’ve seen enough congruence between what the two sides are trying to accomplish. I saw the goodwill between the two leaders, and so I hope we can come up with a plan.”
Despite Pompeo admitting that Washington had hoped for more from the summit, he added that there was still a “basis for believing that we can move forward” with the negotiations.
In the run-up to the summit, Washington shifted its tone on sanctions slightly and indicated that some measure of relief could be on the table in exchange for something significant from Pyongyang.
But on February 24, Pompeo also clarified the statement saying that some measures would stay in place until North Korea fully denuclearized.
“Core economic sanctions… are definitely going to remain in place,” Pompeo told CNN.
He referred to sanctions that “prevent countries from conducting trade, creating wealth for North Korea,” while appearing to suggest that some could be relaxed should Pyongyang take substantial steps towards denuclearization.