US Chief of Diplomacy Mike Pompeo is in North Korea preparing for the long-awaited summit between Communist leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
During a Tuesday afternoon address on the Iranian nuclear issue, President Trump said that Mike Pompeo was “en route to North Korea to prepare for the future meeting with Kim Jong-un”, while this trip was not yet announced.
The US Secretary of State has indeed arrived in North Korea, confirmed later a senior South Korean official. He went to the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang for lunch with Kim Yong Chol, former head of North Korean Intelligence, who is now in charge of diplomatic relations with South Korea.
For decades, we have been adversaries, but we now hope to cooperate to resolve this conflict, to dispel the threats to the world and to ensure that your people have all the opportunities they deserve.
Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State
On the plane to North Korea, Pompeo told reporters he was not sure he would talk to the North Korean leader, whom he had met secretly over the weekend.
According to a member of the South Korean presidency, this second visit by Pompeo is expected to set the date of the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, to be held in late May or early June.
The US Secretary of State also mentioned that the issue of three Americans detained on North Korean soil would be on the agenda. “It would be a nice gesture if they agreed” to release them, he argued.
From the White House, President Trump for his part announced that “we will soon know more” about the fate of these prisoners.
A warm encounter between North Korea and China
These new US announcements follow a meeting Monday and Tuesday between the North Korean leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Dalian, in northeastern China.
Chinese public television CCTV showed the two Asian leaders walking side by side in a beachfront park and chatting around a table.
But the first reports of the meeting broadcast by the Chinese media revealed no significant progress in the North Korean nuclear issue.
The North Korean agency KCNA said that “the two leaders exchanged warm greetings, unable to control their joy to meet again after a month or so.”
The two men met for the first time in Beijing in March.
On this occasion, Kim Jong-un reiterated his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“After my first meeting with comrade president [Kim Jong-un], relations between China and [North Korea] have made positive progress, as has the situation on the Korean peninsula,” said Xi Jinping. according to reports reported by the agency China New.
“As long as the various parties abandon their hostile policies and threats against [Pyongyang], there is no reason for North Korea to be a nuclear state and denuclearization can come to fruition,” he said. Kim Jong-a to Xi Jinping, still according to new China.
A conversation between Trump and Xi Jinping
A few hours after meeting the North Korean leader, the Chinese president asked his US counterpart Donald Trump, in a telephone conversation, to take into account the “reasonable security concerns” of Pyongyang.
The Chinese president said he hoped that the United States and North Korea could “work together and build mutual trust,” according to Chinese state television.
North Korea has long demanded a withdrawal of US forces stationed in South Korea and the removal of the US nuclear umbrella protecting the country. But the US president said last week that he was not considering a withdrawal of US forces from South Korea.
According to a statement from the White House, the Chinese and US presidents have decided to keep the economic pressure on Pyongyang “until the permanent dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic programs”.
China, South Korea’s only diplomatic and economic ally, has backed UN sanctions against Pyongyang for its nuclear program.
“China wants to continue playing a positive role in the implementation of the denuclearization of the [Korean] Peninsula and the long-term establishment of peace and security in the region,” Xi told Donald Trump.
A commercial dispute to be settled
On the same occasion, the two leaders also discussed the commercial dispute between them in discussions “frank, effective and constructive,” according to Xi Jinping.
“Both sides can maintain communication and strive to find a way to appropriately resolve existing problems and achieve mutually beneficial win-win outcomes,” Xi said.
Negotiations between China and the United States to try to avoid a trade war will resume next week.