Pompeo: Fate of U.S.-N. Korea summit rests with Kim

Thursday, May 24, 2018

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he's "very hopeful" a planned U.S.-North Korean summit will proceed but laid the fate of the historic meeting squarely with Kim Jong Un, who won't be reassured by U.S. demands for "rapid denuclearization."

The decision about whether the June 12 meeting in Singapore between Kim and President Donald Trump happens is "ultimately up to Chairman Kim," Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Lawmakers' questioning of Pompeo followed Trump's comment Tuesday "there's a very substantial chance" the meeting would not proceed as scheduled.

Amid the uncertainty, a White House team is headed to Singapore this weekend to work on logistics for the trip. White House spokesman Raj Shah said the effort would be led by Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff for operations.

Also, the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea has cleared the way for all members of Kim's delegation to travel to Singapore for the Trump meeting -- even if they are on the U.N. sanctions blacklist, according to diplomats at the world body who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was private. It also allows all delegation members to take home luxury goods whose import to North Korea is banned by the council. Kim himself is not on the sanctions blacklist, which bans travel and requires all countries to freeze assets.

If it goes ahead, it will be first meeting between a U.S. and a North Korean leader during more than six decades of hostility, and it would come just months after the North's rapid progress toward attaining a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America fueled fears of war. But the North unexpectedly pulled out of planned peace talks with South Korea last week, objecting to U.S.-South Korean military exercises, and also threatened to abandon the planned Trump-Kim meeting, accusing the U.S. of a "one-sided demand" it give up its nuclear weapons.

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