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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to return to North Korea for nuclear talks

The meeting follows president Donald Trump's declaration of love for Kim Jong-un

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea. Korea News Service via AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea. Korea News Service via AP

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has returned to North Korea for more talks to get Kim Jong-un to give up nuclear weapons.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday that Mr Pompeo will meet with Chairman Kim on Sunday, following a day-long visit to Japan.

This will be Mr Pompeo's fourth visit to North Korea since he became secretary of state. He made an earlier trip there in April, when he was director of the CIA.

"Obviously these conversations are going in the right direction, and we feel confident enough to hop on a plane to head there," Ms Nauert said.

US President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim agreed to denuclearisation only in vague terms at their summit in Singapore, the first meeting between leaders of the US and North Korea.

Since then, North Korea has suspended missile testing and has taken some steps to dismantle facilities associated with its nuclear programme, but it has not halted weapons development.

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North Korea says it first wants relief from international sanctions. US officials said they will remain in place until North Korea has "fully" and "verifiably" denuclearised.

Asked about sanctions, Ms Nauert said: "Our policy has not changed."

The meeting between Mr Pompeo and Chairman Kim may also chart a possible second meeting between the two leaders. At a campaign rally on Saturday, President Trump seemed to signal he was open to the prospect, when he spoke about the "beautiful letters" he had received from the North Korean leader. "We fell in love," he said.

Ms Nauert said President Trump's effusive comments were a positive sign for diplomacy. "I think if our leaders have relatively friendly relations, that that's a good thing," she said. "That that can only help us to achieve our final goal."