US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who last week abruptly postponed the 2+2 dialogue with India on July 6, will travel to North Korea this week to “flesh out” the denuclearisation deal on the Korean Peninsula, the White House has announced. During his week-long trip beginning on July 5 from Pyongyang, Pompeo will also travel to Tokyo, Hanoi, Abu Dhabi and Brussels, his spokesperson said yesterday.
The State Department announcement comes days after Pompeo called External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to inform her about his decision to postpone the July 6 India-US 2+2 dialogue in Washington DC. The US had cited “unavoidable reasons” for the sudden postponement of the dialogue.
US envoy to the UN Niki Haley, who was in India last week, had clarified that the postponment of the dialogue had “nothing to do” with the Indo-US bilateral ties. “To continue the ongoing and important work of denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula, Secretary Pompeo will be leaving for North Korea on July 5th to meet with the North Korean leader and his team,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.
The White House refused to comment on media reports saying North Korea was planning to conceal its nuclear weapons and missiles programme. “We are not going to confirm or deny any intelligence reports. What I can tell you is that we’re continuing to make progress,” she said. A top US diplomat had a meeting with members of a North Korean delegation on Sunday. “In the last eight months you haven’t seen missile launches. You haven’t seen the nuclear detonations. These conversations are continuing to evolve. I’m not going to get into the details, but I can tell you that progress continues to be made,” Sanders said.
Pompeo would be in Pyongyang from July 5 to 7 to continue consultations and “flesh out” the agreement reached by President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. He would spend the next two days in Tokyo where he will meet Japanese and South Korean leaders to discuss their shared commitment to the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea, as well as other bilateral and regional issues, state department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
On Sunday, he will carry on to Hanoi for talks with the Vietnamese government and the week after, continue on to the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi before arriving in Brussels on July 10, she said. Pompeo will meet with UAE leaders to discuss ways to further strengthen the US-UAE partnership and advance their common security and economic priorities, Nauert added.
He will then accompany Trump to a NATO summit in Brussels on July 10-12, where discussions would be held on increased defence spending and burden sharing, enhanced deterrence and defence, and NATO’s strengthened efforts to fight terrorism. Pompeo will also participate in the US-EU Energy Council and co-host a meeting of foreign ministers of the global coalition to defeat ISIS with NATO in Brussels, Nauert said.