US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he had made progress on almost all of the central issues in talks with North Korea.
Pompeo said they also made a progress on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation. "But work remained to be done."
The US top diplomat made the remarks while speaking to reporters after a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, reports Reuters.
Pompeo said the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on the repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, and also discussed “modalities” for the destruction of a missile engine testing facility.
Pompeo said he spent “a good deal of time” discussing a denuclearisation timeline and declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.
“I think we made progress in every element of our discussions,” he said, according to a pool report from US reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.
“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said.
Before leaving North Korea for Tokyo, Pompeo shook hands with his interlocutor, Kim Yong Chol, a top North Korean party official and former spy agency chief, with whom he played a key role in arranging an unprecedented summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.
“We will produce an outcome, results,” Kim told Pompeo via a translator, according to the pool report.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo did not meet Kim Jong Un as he had done on his two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.
Asked about reports based on US intelligence assessments that North Korea had continued to develop its nuclear facilities even while engaging in dialogue, Pompeo said, “We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it’s the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearisation of North Korea.
“There is no — no one walked away from that, they’re still equally committed, Chairman Kim is ...still committed,” he said.
The July 12 meeting, which Pompeo said would take place at the intra-Korean border, would be at working level and involve US Defence Department officials.
“That process will begin to develop over the days that follow,” Pompeo said about the repatriation of remains.
Kim Yong Chol said earlier that he and Pompeo had had “very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday”.
He joked that, as a result, Pompeo “might have not slept well last night” at the prestigious Paekhwawon, or 100 Flowers Garden, guest house in what was his first overnight stop in North Korea.
Pompeo reiterated that Trump was “committed to a brighter future for North Korea”.
“So the work that we do, the path toward complete denuclearisation, building a relationship between our two countries, is vital for a brighter North Korea and the success that our two presidents demand of us,” Pompeo said.
Kim agreed that the work was important. “There are things that I have to clarify,” he said.
Pompeo responded: “There are things that I have to clarify as well.”