North Korea's Kim invites Pope to Pyongyang, S. Korea says

Lester Mason
October 9, 2018

Trump also approved a weapons sale to Taiwan, the self-ruled island the Communist mainland claims as its own territory, and sanctioned a Chinese company and its leader over an arms purchase from Russian Federation.

Earlier, the two countries engaged in tit-for-tat rounds of punitive tariffs on hundreds of billions dollars of products.

Pope Francis has never been to North Korea and only visited the southern part of the peninsula once, in 2014.

The visit was Pompeo's fourth to North Korea.

"On the issues that you characterized, we have fundamental disagreements", Pompeo told Wang.

He also accused the United States of making "a series of moves" on Taiwan - a self-ruling democratic island that Beijing considers a rebel province - and "other issues" that hurt Chinese sovereignty.

There are doubts whether Kim is willing to fully relinquish his country's nuclear weapons, which he may see as a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurances the United States could provide.

He wouldn't be specific but said he and Kim had agreed to soon begin working-level talks on the nuts and bolts of denuclearization and on the placement of worldwide inspectors at one of North Korea's main nuclear facilities, and had come close to finalizing a date and venue for the next Kim-Trump summit.

While Kim's actions since have fallen short of Washington's demands, the Trump administration is preparing for a second summit.

"It's a long process", Pompeo told reporters Monday.

Another planned trip by Pompeo to Pyongyang was scrapped after what Trump said was insufficient progress towards implementing the terms of the Singapore declaration. We continue to make progress on agreements made at Singapore Summit.

The KCNA said that Kim also expressed "will" and "conviction" to make progress on issues of mutual concern, apparently indicating the denuclearization talks that have nearly been stalled since the June summit in Singapore.

"Most importantly, both the leaders believe there's real progress that can be made, substantive progress that can be made at the next summit", Pompeo said.

The two sides agreed to set up "working-level" negotiating teams to finalize the date and time for a summit, as well as set the stage for a successful summit meeting, he said. Kim's regime has said it wants to focus on more than just its nuclear program, and that it expects the show some flexibility with its demands.

He said Chinese leader Xi Jinping was also expected to travel to North Korea but did not elaborate further.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kim in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, on Sunday for talks on setting up a second summit with Trump. Japan has been wary of the initiative, but South Korea has embraced it.

The two diplomats had warmer words regarding efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Moon also said the North will "permanently dismantle" its missile engine testing site and launch platform in the northwestern town of Tongchang-ri in the presence of experts from "concerned countries".

Interested in North Korea?

Pompeo, however, played down the differences.

"I would assume there are negotiations going on over specifics - somewhere there are people meeting, " said Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. "That is a necessary component of getting to the best deliverable".

In a more upbeat note, Pyongyang's state media said on Monday Kim lauded his talks with Pompeo, where Kim "explained in detail the proposals for solving the denuclearization issue".

Pompeo tweeted after the meeting, "Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim".

The two Koreas held three summits this year, following years of confrontation marked by the North's nuclear and missile tests. The Vatican insisted at the time that a papal visit would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted in North Korea.

"For Asia, the severity of China-U.S. frictions is taking up much attention and is, to some extent, diluting attention paid to the Korean peninsula issue", it said.

Saturday, Pompeo met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono about North Korea.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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