Pompeo 'very hopeful' North Korea talks will still take place

  • Pompeo 'very hopeful' North Korea talks will still take place

Pompeo 'very hopeful' North Korea talks will still take place

The North has portrayed the destruction on the Punggye-ri test site as a goodwill gesture ahead of planned June 12 summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in Singapore.

Eight South Korean journalists will visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Wednesday to cover the planned dismantling of the DPRK's nuclear test site, raising expectations for the suspended inter-Korean talks to be resumed in the near future.

"We continue to prepare for the summit, and if they want to meet, we will certainly be ready", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday. -North Korean nuclear summit would take place as planned next month, although he laid the meeting's fate squarely on Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has been clearing out small buildings and sheds from the site in recent weeks, according to satellite images and analysis from the online Korea journal 38 North. Last week, the North suddenly threatened not to participate and cancelled talks with the South, accusing Washington of wanting to corner it and force it unilaterally to give up its nuclear arsenal.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, and President Trump hold a joint news conference in 2017.

"The government will swiftly carry out necessary measures for the journalists such as granting approvals for visiting North Korea and providing transportation", the ministry said.

The facility is where Pyongyang carried out all six of its nuclear weapons tests to date, beginning in 2006, including the most powerful one last September.

For a number of reasons - North Korean obfuscation, domestic U.S. politics, problems with verification and the inherent paranoia embedded in the Kim regime's very character - Washington and Pyongyang have yet to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that provides both sides with what they desperately want: Normalization and permanent security for the North and the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) for the U.S. The ultimate goal for the United States is the same as it has always been since the early 1990s.

Pompeo said Kim "asked for the meeting, the president agreed to meet with him".

On Wednesday morning, North Korea accepted the list of the South Korean journalists to attend via a cross-border communication channel.

Experts are divided over whether the demolition will render the site useless.

He said the destruction of the Punggye-ri test site would win Pyongyang worldwide sympathy even if the summit collapses.

There was euphoria when the planned summit with the USA was announced but since then there have been doubts on both sides.

Travel will involve an 11-hour train ride, a four-hour bus journey and then a hike of another hour, a reporter with Russia's RT said on Twitter.

"You never know about deals", he said.

The South Korean journalists were left in Beijing and eventually returned to Seoul as the North refused to grant them visas.

"A lot of defectors and the groups that support them are very angry at the South Korean government's attitude because they are failing to protect them", he said.

"In an ideal world, we wouldn't just have journalists observing what's going on", said Wit.

"When Bolton gave an interview and talked about following a Libya model, Pyongyang said, 'I don't think so, that ain't happening".

Joel Wit, director of 38 North and a senior fellow at the Stimson Center, said dismantling the site is not a meaningless gesture, as there are two areas of the installation that have never been used for tests and still contain tunnels.