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Pompeo sees more talks with Pyongyang

By PAN MENGQI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-06 07:44

DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with government officials welcoming him back home at Pyongyang Railway Station on Tuesday. [Photo/Agencies]

US top diplomat's remarks made after Hanoi summit ends with no agreement 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful the United States would send a delegation to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the coming weeks, after a summit between US President Donald Trump and DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un ended with no deal.

The two leaders' second summit, held last week in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, failed to produce any agreement or immediate plan for follow-up denuclearization negotiations.

"I am hopeful, although I have no commitment yet, that we will be back at it, that I'll have a team in Pyongyang in the next couple weeks," Pompeo said. "I'm continuing to work to find those places where there's a shared interest."

The two sides gave different reasons for the abrupt end to the talks about denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump said on a news conference last Thursday that Pyongyang wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, while DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said they had only demanded a partial easing in exchange for dismantling its main nuclear site at Yongbyon.

"Pyongyang offered to completely dismantle its nuclear production facilities in the presence of international experts if Washington lifted some sanctions that hamper the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people", Ri told reporters in a late-night news conference after the summit termination in Hanoi last week.

Despite the difference, the two sides left room for further discussions, with Trump highlighting the economic benefits for the DPRK if it gave up its nuclear weapons.

Idle for months

In a Monday meeting, the International Atomic Energy Agency said a 5-megawatt reactor in the DPRK's Yongbyon nuclear complex-one of the sticking points that sparked deadlock in the second summit between Kim and Trump-had already been shut down for the past few months.

Yukiya Amano, director-general of the IAEA, said at the meeting of the policy-making Board of Governors that the agency "has not observed any indications of the operation of the reactor since December 2018".

"At the radiochemical laboratory that separates plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel, there were no indications of such reprocessing activities," Amano said.

Akira Kawasaki, a nuclear expert from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said as the Hanoi summit ended without an agreement, the future denuclearization of the peninsula "cannot be left with only Washington and Pyongyang" but "a real plan rooted in the international community and treaties like the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons".

But Kawasaki also noted that even though the summit "was not what it was hoped to be", it is still important to emphasize that the meeting's ending was not disastrous.

"Neither Trump nor Kim stormed out of Hanoi threatening military action or trading insults. Pyongyang also did not test bomb throughout last year. The two sides should keep communication channels open and have more dialogues together with the international community so as to strive for future progress," he added.

On Tuesday, Kim returned to Pyongyang after traveling two and a half days by train from Vietnam, DPRK state media Korea Central News Agency reported. Senior officials of the Workers' Party of Korea, the government and the armed forces attended a greeting ceremony at the Pyongyang railway station, the report said.

During the second Kim-Trump summit, the two leaders "had a constructive and candid exchange of their opinions over the practical issues arising in opening up a new era of the improvement of the DPRK-US relations on the basis of the progress", the KCNA said in an earlier report.

During his visit to Vietnam, Kim met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The two sides discussed further developing the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties and the two countries.

Xinhua and Reuters contributed to this story.

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