Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel again to North Korea to meet with senior leaders there in preparation for a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump said Wednesday that the summit will happen "fairly quickly" and showed reporters a new missive he received this week from Kim, describing it as an "extraordinary letter."
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Kim "wants to see things happen for North Korea that are great," Trump said, speaking to reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"They really have the potential" to be an economic power, Trump said. "A lot of good things are happening," he added.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo met earlier Wednesday with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly where plans for his travel were made.
"Secretary Pompeo accepted Chairman Kim's invitation to travel to Pyongyang next month to make further progress on the implementation of the commitments from the US-DPRK Singapore summit, including the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK, and to prepare for a second summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim," Nauert said in a statement.
Nauert made the announcement as Trump hosted a UN Security Council meeting on non-proliferation and after Pompeo's meeting with Ri.
"Very positive meeting with #DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho @UNGA to discuss upcoming summit & next steps toward denuclearization of #NorthKorea," Pompeo tweeted Wednesday morning.
"Much work remains, but we will continue to move forward."The trip would be Pompeo's fourth to North Korea and comes a month after Trump canceled a trip the top US diplomat had planned for August. At the time, Trump said there hadn't been enough progress on denuclearization.
"I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Trump tweeted on August 24.
It isn't clear whether North Korea has made any substantial changes when it comes to denuclearization, but Trump and Pompeo have been telegraphing the possibility of a second summit for several days. In his remarks at the top of the non-proliferation meeting, Trump said there have been developments that aren't yet publicly known.
"There will be another summit," Pompeo told CBS News Wednesday morning. He said that the location and date hadn't been set yet, but that the US was working "diligently to make sure we get the conditions right so that we can accomplish as much as possible during this summit. But we hope it will be soon. I'll personally be traveling to Pyongyang before too long to continue the work that's ongoing even today to try and deliver on that."
Trump, speaking at his first meeting at the United Nations General Assembly, said Monday that a second summit with Kim will happen "quite soon."
"It looks like we'll have a second summit quite soon," he said. "As you know, Kim Jong Un wrote a beautiful letter and asked me for a second meeting. We will be doing that."
Critics have pointed out that the Singapore declaration contained no firm commitments from North Korea to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs and US officials have expressed frustration at North Korea's evasion of sanctions.
Earlier this month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Russia of "cheating" and acting like a "virus" for helping North Korea evade international sanctions through ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas.
An 'emotional' statement
Russia's ambassador to the UN denied the accusation and said Haley had made an "emotional statement."
Despite signs that North Korea is sidestepping sanctions, Pompeo and Trump have said that the US campaign to exert maximum pressure on Pyongyang will continue and Turmp has repeatedly claimed progress.
"The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped," Trump told the General Assembly on Tuesday. "Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home to lay at rest in American soil."