Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Pompeo: US hopes for 'major' North Korea nuclear disarmament by 2020

Pompeo: US hopes for 'major' North Korea nuclear disarmament by 2020

The president praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a Wednesday interview, calling the head of the totalitarian regime a "smart guy" and a "great negotiator".

President Donald Trump declared that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat, even though Kim Jong Un hasn't committed to a timetable for giving up his weapons.

"Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things", Mr. Trump said. "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea", the president wrote on Twitter shortly after arriving back in Washington. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most risky problem. He told reporters that if the US concludes they no longer are, the freeze "will no longer be in effect".

Trump's agreement to suspend the military drills apparently came without prior consultation with South Korea, baffling many who believe the U.S.

But the president's change in approach - to reset the relationship before denuclearisation, not after, is one that the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has welcomed: it was necessary, he says, to create a new dynamic in which talks might progress. The official said at some point that sentiment was conveyed to the Pentagon. It is unclear how or exactly when it was communicated.

The move reportedly blindsided both Seoul and USA military officials.

To some commentators, Trump's choice of language was a major problem.

In Pyongyang, commuters crowded round the spread of newspapers - the first they had seen of the summit, for majority, reported.

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Pompeo said he expects the U.S. would next speak to North Korean officials "fairly quickly after we return to our home countries", adding he was "very confident" that some form of engagement would occur in the next week.

"I'm not going to talk to internal processes and discussions that were had", he said.

Pompeo did offer more of Trump's reasoning on the exercise decision in Singapore. "He was unambiguous about that".

KCNA said: "Singapore, the country of the epoch-making meeting much awaited by the whole world, was awash with thousands of domestic and foreign journalists and a large crowd of masses to see this day's moment which will remain long in history", it said. "Whatever you want. Just stop touching me!'" Corden said on The Late Late Show.

The August exercise, named Ulchi Freedom Guardian, has always been scheduled and final planning with several nations' military forces is well underway.

As the dust settled, it appeared increasingly unlikely that US troops would be able to proceed with the annual Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a largely computer-simulated but large-scale exercise in South Korea that last took place in August 2017 and involved 17,500 USA forces joining South Korean troops.

Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have all participated in the drill in the past. "I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, 'Hey, I was wrong.' I don't know that I'll ever admit that, but I'll find some kind of an excuse".

"He (Trump) made it very clear that the condition precedent for the exercises not to proceed was for productive, good faith negotiations being ongoing", Pompeo told reporters.

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