US delegation met with North Korea to discuss next steps in denuclearization
ABC News- An American delegation met with their North Korean counterparts in Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Sunday, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to ABC News.
The team — led, as it has been, by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and former Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim — discussed the “next steps on the implementation of President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un’s joint declaration” from the Singapore summit on June 12, the spokesperson said.
This is the same delegation that negotiated the joint declaration in the weeks ahead of the summit — even in two last-minute meetings the day before.
“Our goal remains the final, fully-verified denuclearization of the DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore,” the spokesperson added.
The joint declaration signed by Trump and Kim did not specifically say anything about verification, though Trump has said the U.S. plans to verify the agreement.
“Well, we’re going to be verifying, and we’re going to be working with them,” Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview immediately following the summit. “And it’s going to be much more open than it is right now. Right now it’s obviously very closed, it’s a very closed society we know very little about.”
Reports from South Korean media indicate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may be traveling to Pyongyang along with Andrew Kim and Sung Kim on Friday to continue talks. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday that Pompeo would be discussing next steps “with the North Koreans in the near future.”
Andrew Kim, head of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, was among the U.S. delegates at the northern side of Panmunjom with Ambassador Sung Kim Sunday. Andrew Kim reportedly met with counterpart Kim Yong Chol, Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man, and delivered a letter from Pompeo. Kim Yong Chol left immediately to take the letter to Pyongyang, Yonhap News reported, citing sources in South Korea’s Foreign Ministry.
The meeting Sunday comes after a string of reports over the weekend that suggested North Korea is moving ahead with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs as it pushes for sanctions relief. The Washington Post reported U.S. intelligence believes North Korea doesn’t intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile and is instead seeking ways to conceal it.
The Wall Street Journal had a separate report saying North Korea is completing a major expansion of a key missile manufacturing plant.
Bolton declined to comment on the stories, saying day-to-day reports don’t help negotiations. But he added, “There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this. … We’re well, well, well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.”