Mon, Jul 09, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Pompeo shrugs off ‘gangster’ rebuke from North Korea

AP, TOKYO

From left, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes part in a news conference with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Taro Kon and Kang Kyung-wha, yesterday at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo.

Photo: EPA-EFE

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday brushed aside North Korea’s accusation of “gangster-like” denuclearization demands.

Pompeo maintained that his third visit to the country had produced results, but also vowed that sanctions would remain until Pyongyang follows through on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s pledge to get rid of his atomic weapons.

Pompeo downplayed a harshly critical North Korean statement after the talks in which the country’s foreign ministry bashed hopes for a quick deal and attacked the US for making unreasonable and extortionate demands aimed at forcing it to abandon nuclear weapons.

The statement was sure to fuel growing skepticism in the US and elsewhere over how serious Kim is about giving up his nuclear arsenal.

“If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster,” Pompeo said, noting that numerous UN Security Council resolutions have demanded that the North rid itself of nuclear weapons and end its ballistic missile program. “People are going to make certain comments after meetings. If I paid attention to the press, I’d go nuts and I refuse to do that.”

Speaking after a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo, Pompeo said his two days of talks in Pyongyang had been productive and conducted in good faith.

However, following the stinging commentary from the North, he allowed that the goal of denuclearization would be difficult and that much work remains.

“The road ahead will be difficult and challenging and we know critics will try to minimize the work that we have achieved,” he said.

His two days of talks with senior North Korean officials had “made progress,” and included a “detailed and substantive discussion about the next steps towards a fully verified and complete denuclearization, he said.

He said North Korea understood that denuclearization must be “fully verified” and “final.”

South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said that the North had balked at a written pledge for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” for historical reasons, but stressed that the goal remained the same whether or not that exact phrase was used.

Fully verified, final denuclearization “isn’t any softer in stating our shared goal of complete denuclearization,” she said.

After wrapping up his talks in Tokyo, Pompeo yesterday left for Vietnam, where he met with Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi.

Pompeo’s five-nation trip will also take him to Abu Dhabi and Brussels.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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