Pompeo eyes progress on next Trump-Kim summit during Asia trip

Vastavam web: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped to accelerate a second summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump as he kicked off an Asian trip Saturday that will feature a meeting with North Korea’s leader. Pompeo arrived in Tokyo on the first leg of a tour that will take him to Pyongyang for a fourth time as the contours of a possibly historic US-North Korea deal take shape. Speaking on the plane on the way from the United States, Pompeo said his aim was to “develop sufficient trust” between the historic foes to inch towards peace.

In June, Trump met Kim in Singapore in the first-ever summit between the countries.No sitting US president has visited North Korea, which according to human rights groups remains one of the most repressive countries on Earth. Since the Singapore summit, which yielded what critics charge was only a vague commitment by Kim towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the road towards better ties has been bumpy.

Pompeo has repeatedly declined to be drawn publicly on the shape of an eventual agreement. The United States has called for a comprehensive accord and strict enforcement of sanctions on North Korea in the meantime. Pompeo kicked off his trip with talks in Tokyo with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono. Japan, which has seen North Korean missiles fly over its territory and been threatened with annihilation, has historically taken a hard line on Pyongyang and stressed the need to maintain pressure on the regime.

He said he would bring up with Kim the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago, which is a huge issue domestically in Japan. Abe called for “coordination” on this issue and also on North Korea’s nuclear threat. After Tokyo, Pompeo travels to Pyongyang and then on to South Korea, whose dovish president Moon Jae-in has served as a go-between for the two sides. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has given a hint of what a grand bargain between the two countries could look like. In exchange, the United States would declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War — which concluded with an armistice rather than a full-blown peace treaty — but North Korea would stop short of delivering an exhaustive list of its nuclear facilities, she said.

Pompeo did not discuss the possible outlines of a deal, saying only that his “mission is to make sure that we understand what each side is truly trying to achieve.” After Seoul, Pompeo closes his trip Monday in China, North Korea’s political and economic lifeline.