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Pompeo says ‘still in charge’ of North Korea negotiations

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This picture taken on October 7, 2018 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 8, 2018 via KNS shows North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (R) shaking hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang. Kim Jong Un has agreed to hold a second summit with US President Donald Trump as soon as possible, Seoul said on October 7, after Washington’s top diplomat held “productive” talks on denuclearisation with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / KCNA VIA KNS / – South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday he was “still in charge of the team” negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program after Pyongyang demanded he be removed from the talks.

“Nothing has changed,” Pompeo told a news conference after a meeting with Japan’s foreign and defense ministers. “We continue to work.”

“Still in charge of the team,” he said.

North Korea this week demanded that Pompeo be excluded from future talks after he apparently encouraged President Donald Trump to stand firm during a summit in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump has spoken fondly of his relationship with the young authoritarian leader and last month said he had blocked the imposition of punishing new sanctions on the cash-strapped country, despite Pompeo’s vows to maintain strong pressure.

“President Trump is obviously in charge of the overall effort but my team, Special Representative (Steve) Biegun, will continue to lead the US effort” to ensure Kim does as he promised, Pompeo said.

“I’m convinced we’ll still have a real opportunity to achieve that outcome and our diplomatic team will continue to remain in the lead,” he said.

Pompeo travelled four times last year to Pyongyang and has said that Kim has committed in general terms to give up his nuclear program as part of a deal with the United States.


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