U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brushed off North Korean accusations of "gangster-like" diplomacy during negotiations in Pyongyang, saying on Sunday he will pursue denuclearisation talks after meeting his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
"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", Mr. Pompeo said.
Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, dictator Kim Jong Un's top adviser and North Korea's former spy chief, exchanged pleasantries before the second meeting between the two countries.
Despite what he described as progress, Pompeo said the results so far did not warrant any easing of sanctions, which he said would be enforced "with vigor" until North Korea follows through with denuclearization. "Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish".
North Kore said the outcome of the follow-up talks was "very concerning" because it has led to a "dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm".
Pompeo said that North Korea, in the "many hours of talks" at a walled-off guesthouse outside downtown Pyongyang, reiterated its commitment to denuclearisation.
"The commitment that Chairman Kim made is important and powerful, and I am convinced that he understands the commitment he made, and I am hopeful that we will find a path forward to achieve that commitment that Chairman Kim himself made personally to President Trump and then to [the] world in the signed agreement between our two leaders", Pompeo added.
Meanwhile, North Korea says it disagrees with the USA calls for denuclearization, and called the discussions with Pompeo very concerning.
The top USA diplomat continued to describe his conversations with senior North Korean officials as "productive", even as North Korea attacked the US negotiating stance.
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He had said progress was made during his two-day visit to Pyongyang.
They were due to talk again all day Saturday before Pompeo heads to Tokyo to brief Washington's Japanese and South Korean allies. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert added that this meeting will be held at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, involving working-level officials including those from the Defense Department.
He said that a meeting between the two sides has been set up on July 12 in Panmunjom along the inter-Korean border to discuss in a day or two the repatriation of US soldiers' remains left in the DPRK in the 1950s.
In fact, near the end of the statement, KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying "we still cherish our good faith in President Trump".
"The Kim regime wouldn't want to be seen as if they were somehow being pressured to cave in to the US' demands", he said.
Pompeo said he did not meet Kim on his latest visit to Pyongyang, as he had done twice before, and he had not anticipated doing so.
Pompeo, however, said that more talks were needed on both. -North Korea summit in Singapore, Trump declared the North was no longer a threat and would hand over the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War.
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. North Korea committed at last month's summit to the "immediate repatriation" of remains already identified, but that hasn't happened yet.
Some US experts on North Korea said the ongoing disputes show the risk of Washington granting premature concessions to Pyongyang.