- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2018

President Trump sent a copy of Elton John’s album with the song “Rocket Man” to North Korea as a gift for leader Kim Jong-un, according to a report from South Korean Chosun Media.

Allegedly, the CD was one two gifts sent with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on his two-day visit. The other was a letter from Mr. Trump.

The newspaper explained anonymous diplomatic sources in D.C. told them the two leaders discussed the “Rocket Man” nickname Mr. Trump gave to Mr. Kim, and the North Korean leader said he never heard the song.

According to NBC News, reporters on the ground asked Mr. Pompeo about the CD, but he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Trump administration officials had no immediate comment Friday on whether the report was accurate.

The State Department, meanwhile, was mum Friday on the deeper details of Mr. Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang, the secretary of state’s first visit with North Korean officials since the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore three weeks ago.

Mr. Pompeo was greeted Friday night North Korea time at a Pyongyang airport by Kim Yong-chol, a top aid to Mr. Kim, after which two reportedly met for nearly three hours and made plans to meet again Saturday. While U.S. officials have said Mr. Pompeo intends to meet directly with Mr. Kim, it was not clear Friday when or whether the meeting will occur.

Sources close to the Trump administration have said on background that Mr. Pompeo’s immediate goal is to try and nail down a date for the coming weeks or months by which the North Korean leader must publicly declare of his nation’s nuclear production facilities, weapons and nuclear-capable missiles.

The secretary of state’s visit to the North Korean capital represents the first major test of the denuclearization deal referred to in a joint statement between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim in Singapore.

Despite reports that North Korea has actually continued to expand facilities related to the nuclear programs during the weeks since the Singapore summit, Mr. Trump has remained upbeat about the prospects for a breakthrough.

When asked Thursday whether he was wary that North Korea may now be trying to hide its nuclear program, the president told reporters, “We’ll see. We’ll see. All I can tell you is this, you haven’t had one missile launch and you haven’t had one rocket launch.”

“Under the Obama administration they were launching missiles, they were testing,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re not doing that anymore. That could start tomorrow. Who knows. And if it does, I won’t be happy. But for eight months, there’s been not one rocket or missile launch or there hasn’t been a nuclear test.”

He added that he was encouraged last week by reports that North Korean officials were “taking down … anti-U.S. propaganda” in Pyongyang.

Private analysts have been quick to pick apart the administration’s overall plan for following up on the summit in Singapore, where Mr. Kim committed generally to the goal of a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Mr. Pompeo told lawmakers on Capital Hill after the summit that he would like to see a complete disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities by the end of Mr. Trump’s first term in office — in roughly two and a half years.

But National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, who has a reputation as the administration’s most aggressive North Korea hawk, has since claimed Mr. Pompeo was headed to Pyongyang this week to present Mr. Kim with a plan for complete nuclear dismantlement in just one year.

Mr. Pompeo steered clear of the timeline issue as he departed from Washington Thursday, tweeting broadly that he was “Looking forward to continuing our work toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of #DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim.”

DPRK is the abbreviation of the official name that North Korea’s dictatorship has given itself, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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