UPDATE : 2019.12.13 FRI 09:50
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Pompeo 'absolutely' sees path to N.K. denuclearization

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on April 24, 2019 that he "absolutely" sees a path leading to the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Pompeo made the remark in an interview with CBS News, saying there was more "nuance" in February's no-deal summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un than appeared in public.

This AP file photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"There was a lot more nuance to the conversation than just, hey, they had a position, we had a position, we walked away," the top U.S. diplomat said. "There's more there to that. We hope that we can build on that."

The summit collapsed because the North Koreans asked for more sanctions relief than the United States was prepared to give for the North's offer to dismantle its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

Kim is currently in Russia's Vladivostok, where he is due to hold his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 25, 2019.

Analysts have said the young leader will seek to increase his leverage in negotiations with Washington by developing closer ties with Moscow.

Pompeo said the U.S. is determined not to repeat past mistakes by giving the North "a bunch of money in exchange for too little."

"We're very focused on getting the right set of incentives for both sides so that we can achieve the objective," he said. "It's gonna be bumpy. It's gonna be challenging. I hope that we get several more chances to have serious conversations about how we can move this process forward."

Asked if he saw a path to a deal leading to denuclearization, Pompeo said: "I do. I absolutely do."

It will ultimately depend on whether Kim makes the "fundamental strategic decision" to give up his nuclear program, he said, adding the North Korean leader has made the commitment multiple times to both him and Trump.

North Korea faces the challenge of shifting its narrative from one in which it sees nuclear weapons as a security guarantee to something that puts the nation at risk, according to Pompeo.

"So there's not just a military strategic decision, but a political strategic decision that we think Chairman Kim is prepared to make," he said. "Only time will tell for sure. But I've seen enough to believe that there is a real opportunity to fundamentally shift the strategic paradigm on the peninsula there."

On North Korea's call last week for his replacement with a "more careful and mature" negotiator, Pompeo said the remark came from "a mid-level guy."

North Korea's state media attributed the comment to Kwon Jong-gun, director general of the North Korean foreign ministry's American affairs department. (Yonhap)

Shin Jin-seon  edt@koeapost.com

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