U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he expects working-level talks with North Korea to resume in a couple of weeks despite the regime's missile launches earlier the same day.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Pompeo downplayed the two short-range ballistic missile launches as a negotiating tactic.
"Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side," Pompeo said.
"It will be in a couple of weeks, I anticipate," he said when asked if working-level talks will be held next week.
At an impromptu meeting at the inter-Korean border on June 30, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to resume the working-level talks that had stalled after their second summit in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.
Trump and Pompeo earlier said the talks would restart in mid-July, but last week the North warned it would be contingent on whether South Korea and the U.S. conduct joint military exercises scheduled for next month.
Pompeo said in the interview that what is more important than the day is how prepared each side will be to produce results.
The real objective, he said, is "to make sure that we've had enough conversations so that there can be productive dialogue when the teams get together."
"If it takes us another two weeks or four weeks, so be it," Pompeo said. "We remain convinced that there's a diplomatic way forward, a negotiated solution to this."
He added: "President Trump has been incredibly consistent here. We want diplomacy to work. We want Chairman Kim to deliver on the promise that he made to President Trump, which is that he would denuclearize."
Earlier, the State Department said it remains committed to diplomacy although it wants the North to refrain from further provocations.
"We urge no more provocations," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said during a press briefing. "This administration is committed to diplomatic engagement with the North Koreans and we continue to press and hope for these working-level negotiations to move forward." (Yonhap)