Pompeo 'still in charge' of North Korea negotiation team

Secretary of State makes clear he's "still in charge of the team" negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear on Friday he was "still in charge of the team" negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program, after Pyongyang demanded he be removed from the talks.

"Nothing has changed," Pompeo told a news conference after a meeting with Japan's foreign and defense ministers, according to AFP. "We continue to work."

"Still in charge of the team," he added.

North Korea this week demanded that Pompeo be excluded from future talks after he apparently encouraged President Donald Trump to stand firm during a summit in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February.

Trump abruptly ended the summit with Kim in the capital of Vietnam, explaining that, while "we had a productive time," no deal was signed.

He said at the time that Kim had asked for total removal of sanctions before denuclearization, something to which the US could not agree.

Pompeo traveled four times last year to Pyongyang and has said that Kim has committed in general terms to giving up his nuclear program as part of a deal with the United States.

US-North Korean engagement has appeared to be in limbo since that summit. A senior official in Washington said last month that the US still believes the "fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea is possible by the end of Trump's first term.

On Wednesday, North Korean state media reported that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, had supervised the test-firing of a new tactical weapon with a "powerful warhead," hailing what it called a contribution of "very weighty significance" to its arsenal.

However, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Thursday that the North Korean weapons test announced was not of a ballistic missile.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Passover in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)