BANGKOK – United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that Washington was continuing North Korea dialog, just hours after Pyongyang launched its third set of projectile launches in just over a week.
Pompeo was speaking in Bangkok on the sidelines of the 52nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers’ Meeting where he was questioned about North Korea’s recent weapons launches and how patient the US should be among the amount of “face time” given to Kim Jong-un by President Donald Trump for apparently no return.
“You should never doubt what we may be communicating to the North Koreans. There are conversations going on even as we speak,” Pompeo said.
“The diplomatic path is often fraught… tos and fros, forward and backward… We are still fully committed to achieving the outcome that we have laid out – fully verified denuclearization of North Korea through the use of diplomacy,” he added.
At the prospect of a third summit between Kim and Trump, Pompeo said: “Stay tuned.”
“There are lots of conversations taking place,” he said, adding that the last meeting between Trump and Kim at the inter-Korean border in June didn’t give the US leader “a darn thing.”
Over the past eight days, Pyongyang has launched three rounds of weapons tests, thought to be short-range ballistic missiles and rockets, with the latest early Friday morning. Last week, Kim also unveiled a new submarine thought to be capable of launching missiles.
These actions are widely perceived as protests against upcoming joint US-South Korea military exercises and impatience with Washington over denuclearization talks.
Pompeo said he wanted “very much” for dialog to proceed with North Korea and to “really get past these discussions and get the execution on the ground.”
After meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Bangkok on Thursday, Pompeo praised Beijing as a “bulwark” for its role in enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.
As well as with North Korea, there are wider US discussions taking place about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with other countries such as Iran, with Washington “working to engage in a strategic security dialog with the Russians,” he said.
Pompeo said sanctions placed on Iran had significantly decreased the oil exports of the country and warned against any entity violating those sanctions.
“The sanctions have been very effective and we will enforce them everywhere. We will enforce them against any company, any country that continues to violate those sanctions,” he said.
“It is absolutely imperative that we deny the Ayatollah (Ali Khamenei) in the Islamic Republic of Iran from having the wealth of resources to build a nuclear program that could threaten anyone in the world,” he said.
In August 2018, the US reimposed sanctions against Iran that had been lifted following the 2015 nuclear agreement from which Trump unilaterally withdrew last May. On Wednesday, it imposed further sanctions on the country’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for being the “regime’s primary spokesperson around the world.”