U.S. Has `A Ways to Go' on North Korea Nuclear Deal, Pompeo Says

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the U.S. has “a ways to go” to achieve the goal of a nuclear-free North Korea and the isolated country is still violating United Nations Security Council resolutions connected to the issue.

Pompeo made the remarks to reporters as he flew from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, where he attended a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and planned to press countries to keep enforcing sanctions against the North. Officials have expressed concern that those restrictions have weakened since President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June.

“Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearize -- the world demanded that they do so,” Pompeo said. “To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are a, in violation of one or both of the security council resolutions and b, we can see we have still a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome.”

North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, is also attending the ASEAN summit on Friday and Saturday. State Department officials say Pompeo has no definite plans to meet Ri while in Singapore, but wouldn’t rule out an encounter.

Nonetheless, Pompeo was clearly prepared for the possibility, bringing with him on his trip nearly his entire team working on the issue. They include Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines; Allison Hooker, the top North Korea official with the National Security Council; and the translator who has been in most of the secretary’s meetings with North Korean officials.

Pompeo and other administration officials have had to bat down concerns about North Korea’s intent, especially after the Washington Post reported earlier this week that the country is building at least one and perhaps more liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles.

On Aug. 1, Trump received a letter from Kim as part of follow-up from their Singapore meeting and “advancing the commitments made” in a joint statement that came out of the event, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

U.S. officials have been encouraged by North Korea’s move to return home the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean war. Pompeo, who has met North Korea’s Kim three times, says progress continues toward denuclearization.

“Thank you to Chairman Kim Jong Un for keeping your word & starting the process of sending home the remains of our great and beloved missing fallen!” Trump wrote on Twitter. "I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action. Also, thank you for your nice letter -- l look forward to seeing you soon!"

Pompeo met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi later in the day Friday. Details of those discussions weren’t disclosed, but China is crucial to enforcing the sanctions regime given that it’s North Korea’s neighbor and chief diplomatic and economic patron.

“The consensus reached in Singapore Summit is valuable and points a clear direction,” Wang told reporters. “I encourage both sides to implement the consensus reached by the U.S. and North Korean leaders and build up confidence.”

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