- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will “soon” meet with North Korean officials to take the next step in a denuclearization deal, a top South Korea official said Monday.

“Secretary of State Pompeo has the will to push ahead with [negotiations] at a very fast speed,” said South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa, who had just received an update Sunday from Mr. Pompeo.

She said Mr. Pompeo plans to “sit down with North Korea at the earliest possible time.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Mr. Pompeo called Ms. Kang to discuss the next steps following the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore last week.

“Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kang reaffirmed that the United States and the Republic of Korea remain committed to the goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization,” she said. “The two leaders pledged to maintain close coordination and agreed that pressure must continue until the DPRK denuclearizes.”

President Trump said he wanted quick action after after reaching an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the summit.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim signed a four-point statement committing to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and improving relations between the U.S. and North Korea.

The statement lacked key details of the denuclearization process, including a full inventory of North Korea‘s arsenal, a timeline for dismantling the nuclear weapons facilities and a verification mechanism.

Mr. Pompeo is expected to try to fill in those blanks in the upcoming talks.

The president and Mr. Pompeo have insisted that the administration will not ease crippling sanctions on North Korea until the communist regime dismantles the nuclear weapons.

North Korea is believed to possess at least 60 nuclear bombs and extensive facilities for making nuclear fueled and missiles.

Analysts estimate that even with full cooperation from Pyongyang, complete dismantling of the nuclear weapons program could take up to 10 years.

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