U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said he expected working-level talks with Pyongyang over North Korea’s nuclear program to resume in mid-July.
Speaking to reporters during alongside U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, Pompeo indicated preparatory work for the talks would begin almost immediately.
“It’ll happen – I guess it’s the end of the June still – yep, this month, starting tomorrow,” Pompeo said.
“So sometime in July, probably in the next two or three weeks, probably around the middle of the month would be my guess, at a place yet to be determined. But the teams will gather and they’ll start working. They’ll start exchanging ideas.”
The U.S. Secretary of State added that Biegun will be “leading the exercise,” though he did not yet know who Washington would be working with on the North Korean side.
The news followed a busy day at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas when U.S. President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to cross over the military demarcation line into North Korea, at the invitation of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump tweeted that he was open to a short meeting with Kim around 24 hours earlier, as he departed the G20 in Japan for a scheduled summit with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in.
During the press conference on Sunday, Pompeo admitted that Trump’s suggestion had been a gamble, saying that the strategy “worked,” after the two leaders agreed to resume working-level talks.
“We were hopeful – I think I’d said to some of you, or maybe I said it from the podium a few weeks back – we thought there might be this opportunity,” Pompeo said.
“And the President, by getting together with Chairman Kim today, broke through and was able to get us the opportunity to get back to the negotiating table, which I’m excited about.”
But the U.S. Secretary of State was less forthcoming on outlining what exactly had changed since talks previously fell part following a much more elaborate summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February.
“Well, I don’t want to say too much about that. I’ll leave the President to talk about the substance of the conversation since it was, from the American side, just he and I in the meeting. I’ll leave it to him to talk about the things he didn’t share already,” Pompeo said.
“But I left there with the recognition, I think, that Chairman Kim really wants to get something done, something very significant, that we want to do so in a timely way,” Pompeo added, echoing earlier comments from Trump that Washington was in no rush.
Pompeo also admitted that Washington and Pyongyang did not have “a shared agreement on denuclearization,” though told reporters that they would not be resuming talks from “square one.”
The U.S. Secretary of State also clarified the day’s meetings had no effect on Washington’s sanctions policy, reiterating that they are to remain in place.
Featured image: State Department