Mike Pompeo downplays possibility of summit between US and North Korea
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the possibility of another summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before the US presidential election, saying Trump would only want to engage if there were real prospects of progress.
Pompeo’s comments during a forum in Washington on Wednesday followed repeated North Korean statements insisting it would no longer gift Trump high-profile meetings he could boast as foreign policy achievements when it’s not being substantially rewarded in return.
“The North Koreans have given mixed signals, but the truth is President Trump only wants to engage in a summit if we believe there’s a sufficient likelihood that we can make real progress in achieving the outcomes that were set forth in Singapore,” Pompeo said during the event hosted by The Hill, referring to the first Trump-Kim summit in June 2018.
“You need to have a willing partner, and the North Koreans have chosen at this point in time not to engage in a way that can lead to a potential solution. We hope they’ll change their mind.”
Trump and Kim have met three times since embarking on high-stakes nuclear diplomacy in 2018, beginning with their meeting in Singapore where they issued vague vows for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.
But negotiations have faltered since their second summit in February 2019, where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.
Some analysts believe North Korea will avoid serious talks with the Americans for now before attempting an eventual return to negotiations after the US election in November. They say North Korea likely doesn’t want to make any major commitments or concessions when there is a chance US leadership could change.
But others say another Trump-Kim meeting wouldn’t be impossible. Trump could opt for something dramatic to improve his sliding poll numbers while Kim could see a window of opportunity closing with a Trump presidency and attempt a quick exchange between reversible denuclearization steps and hard-to-reverse sanctions relief.
In a statement last week, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader, said she doesn’t expect another summit with the United States this year, insisting that such a meeting would be “unpractical” for the North.
But she also said “you never know,” saying that a meeting would depend on the determination of the two leaders, and called for major concessions from Washington to keep alive the nuclear diplomacy.
The prolonged stalemate in nuclear talks have raised doubts on whether Kim Jong Un would ever agree to fully relinquish the nukes he likely sees as his strongest guarantee of survival. Some experts see him as trying to shape the diplomacy as an arms reduction negotiation between nuclear states rather than talks that would culminate in a surrender of his nuclear program.
Three bombs tore through minibuses in Afghanistan's northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Wednesday, killing at least nine people, police said. "The bombs were placed on three minibuses in different districts of the city," Balkh provincial police spokesman Asif Waziri told AFP, adding that 15 other people were wounded. Another bomb exploded inside a mosque in the capital Kabul late on Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding 10 others, the interior ministry said.
At least 16 people were killed after a blast tore through a mosque in Afghanistan's capital Kabul and three blasts ripped through three minibuses northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Wednesday. A spokesman for Kabul's commander said at least two people were injured in the blast on a mosque in Kabul. Emergency hospital said in a tweet it had received five bodies from the blast and more than a dozen wounded patients, reported Reuters.
Clashes erupted across several cities of Pakistan amid the Azadi March call by the ousted prime minister Imran Khan Niazi. After Karachi, Lahore and parts of Khyber Pakhunkhwa, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf supporters and workers resorted to violence in the federal capital Islamabad, where the party chief is set to hold the rally.
On a day Lahore witnessed clashes between supporters of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and police, former Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Hafeez took to Twitter and slammed the Pakistani establishment over the shortage of fuel and cash, tagging prominent politicians in the country. Political and economic volatility has deepened in the nuclear-armed nation ahead of a likely announcement by the International Monetary Fund later in the day on whether it will resume a $6 billion rescue package.
China's People's Liberation Army on Wednesday said it has conducted a military exercise around Taiwan as a warning against its “collusive activities” with the United States, two days after President Joe Biden said Washington would get involved militarily if China were to try to take the self-ruled island by force. “This is a stern warning to the recent collusive activities by the US and Taiwan secessionists,” Senior a spokesperson of the Eastern Theatre Command, Colonel Shi Yi was quoted in Chinese state media as saying.