US Secretary of State in Pyongyang to seek concrete nuclear commitments

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened a second day of talks with senior North Korean officials on Saturday, with both sides saying they need clarity on the parameters of an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks with senior North Korean officials on Saturday without meeting Kim Jong Un but with commitments for new discussions on denuclearization and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.

Mr Pompeo left the negotiations venue to make a secure phone call to update President Donald Trump on the talks, the report said.

At talks with Mr Kim Yong Chol, a top official in North Korea's ruling party who had already met with Mr Pompeo in New York, Mr Pompeo said as he headed into the meeting that the aim of the USA was for "complete denuclearization" of the North.

Pompeo responded: "There are things that I have to clarify as well".

He added that the Trump administration was committed to reaching a deal under which North Korea would denuclearise and see economic benefits in return.

But rather than the two leaders crowning years of detailed negotiation with their one-on-one meeting, the short statement marked instead the start of a diplomatic long slog, and Trump earned the scorn of Korea watchers and non-proliferation experts when he declared the crisis over.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, speaks to Kim Yong Chol, foreground, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, for a second day of talks at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, July 7, 2018. Pompeo is on a trip traveling to North Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels.

The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, citing unnamed Washington sources, said the "Rocket Man" CD was a gift for Kim Jong Un - a reference to Trump's former habit of insultingly referring to the North Korean as "Little Rocket Man". "There are things that I have to clarify".

She said US national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly were also on Pompeo's earlier briefing call with Trump.

"These are complicated issues, but we made progress on nearly all of the central issues, some places a great deal of progress, other places there's still more work to be done", he said.

She said there had been no softening in the US positions, although she would not explain why the department no longer defines its aim as "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization" (CVID).

Mr Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol met for almost three hours on Friday and then had dinner amid growing scepticism over how serious Kim Jong-un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his June 12 summit with Trump into concrete action.

Nauert told reporters that the two sides spoke during a dinner following their two hour and 45 minute meeting Friday night and they were "cracking jokes" and "exchanging pleasantries".

Pompeo said before arriving in North Korea he was seeking to "fill in" some details on North Korea's commitments and maintain the momentum towards implementing the agreement from the summit.

One hoped-for breakthrough on this trip would have been the return of the remains of USA troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Last month, Kim and Trump met in Singapore and signed an historic joint statement committing Pyongyang to "work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in exchange for USA "security guarantees" and lasting peace in the decades-old stand-off.

Some officials in the State and Defense Departments and inU.S. intelligence agencies are anxious that Trump has put himself at a disadvantage by overstating the results of the Singapore summit.

The State Department has pushed back on reports that the U.S.is softening its position with North Korea, the spokesperson telling reporters Friday "nothing could be further from the truth". The State Department said its policy remains unchanged.

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