US hopes to receive senior North Korean to prepare summit

US Secretary of State Mike says he hopes to soon meet with his North Korean counterpart in Washington. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that he hopes to receive his North Korean counterpart in Washington in the coming weeks to arrange a new summit.

“I’m very hopeful we’ll have senior leader meetings here in the next week and a half or so between myself and my counterpart to continue this discussion so that when the two of them get together, there is real opportunity to make another big step forward on denuclearization,” Pompeo said in an interview with government-supported Voice of America.

A visit to the US capital by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho would be another landmark in the rapidly warming relationship between the two countries, which never signed a treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

President Donald Trump held a first-of-a-kind summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June and has been eager for a second meeting, with some political watchers predicting an announcement before the November 6 congressional elections.

“We’re working on finding dates and times and places that will work for each of the two leaders,” Pompeo said, agreeing when asked whether the summit would take place “in the very near future.”

Trump has seen his diplomacy with North Korea as a signature foreign policy success following sky-high tensions.

Pompeo said that Kim had told the United States that he has made a “strategic decision” that “we no longer need our nuclear arsenal for our country to be successful.”

“I’m very happy that he’s made this decision, but to execute on that is complex and will take time,” Pompeo said.

Critics say that North Korea has taken only symbolic rhetorical steps in hopes of reducing pressure and is unlikely to give up a nuclear arsenal the regime has spent decades building.