Pompeo leaves for Pyongyang

US Secretary of State to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, says he will seek to "develop sufficient trust" between the sides.

Ben Ariel ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to Pyongyang on Saturday night for new talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The trip will be Pompeo's fourth to Pyongyang.

Pompeo departed from Tokyo, where he spent the first leg of a tour that will include stops in Pyongyang, South Korea and China, reported AFP.

"Next stop Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim and continue our work to fulfil the commitments made (by) POTUS and Chairman Kim," he tweeted.

On the flight to Tokyo, Pompeo said his aim was to "develop sufficient trust" between Washington and Pyongyang to inch towards peace.

"Then we are also going to set up the next summit," said Pompeo, according to AFP, though he played down expectations for a major breakthrough.

"I doubt we will get it nailed but begin to develop options for both location and timing for when Chairman Kim will meet with the president again. Maybe we will get further than that," he said.

Kim and US President Donald Trump held a summit in Singapore in June, during which they signed an agreement which includes a commitment to achieve total denuclearization of Korea, with promises to pursue “vigorous negotiations” to that end.

Subsequent reports suggested, however, that despite its commitment to denuclearize, North Korea has continued to expand infrastructure at nuclear and missile sites.

Trump then called off a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, though he later insisted the United States is “doing well” in its diplomatic efforts with North Korea.

Trump has remained optimistic that North Korea will ultimately denuclearize.

During his recent address at the UN General Assembly, Trump lauded the North Korean strongman as “terrific,” one year after Trump eviscerated Kim from the same platform.

He later said that he and Kim have fallen “in love”.

“And then we fell in love — OK? No really. He wrote me beautiful letters and they’re great letters. We fell in love,” Trump said at a rally in West Virginia last week.

Pompeo's stop in Tokyo before the summit was intended to reassure the US ally that Washington's diplomacy will not leave Japan out in the cold.

Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pompeo said the two allies would have a "fully coordinated, unified view of how to proceed, which will be what is needed if we are going to be successful on denuclearizing North Korea."