Pompeo: North Korea wasn’t replying to summit preparation efforts
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said President Trump canceled his planned summit with North Korea in part because the United States did not receive replies from Pyongyang on preparations for the meeting.
“I don’t believe in that sense that we’re in a position to believe that there could be a successful outcome,” Pompeo said. “I think that’s what the president communicated pretty clearly in his letter.
“I can add to that. Over the past many days, we have endeavored to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed, which was to put teams, preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit and we have received no response to our inquiries from them.”
Pompeo was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee moments after the White House released a letter from President Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un canceling the summit that was planned for June 12 in Singapore.
“I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in the letter.
The cancellation comes after a series of statements from North Korea threatening to walk away from the talks if the United States does not change its demands.
In the latest statement Wednesday night, top North Korean official called Vice President Pence a “political dummy” and said his government is just as ready to inflict an “appalling tragedy” on the U.S. as it is to talk.
Trump, in turn, wrote that while Kim likes to “talk about” his nuclear capabilities, “ours are so massive and so powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in his opening remarks that the cancellation of the summit is a consequence of the United States not doing preparatory work before the meeting was even agreed to.
“The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal,” Menendez said.
Pompeo took issue with Menendez’s assessment, saying “the American team’s fully prepared.”
“I think we’re rocking. I think we’re ready. I think we’re prepared for this meeting. I think President Trump’s prepared for this meeting. We were fully, fully engaged over the past weeks to prepare for this meeting,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo met twice with Kim in the lead-up to the summit, the second time coming home with three Americans who had been detained in North Korea.
Pompeo told senators he made clear the United States’s demands during those meeting and that he believed at the time Kim was unsurprised and understood.
“When I heard back from him, there was little doubt in my mind that he understood the scope of what we were asking for or the nature of what would have to take place, the verification that we would need to take in order to be comfortable that we could begin to deliver the assurances he, in return, asked for,” Pompeo said. “And so I think we were having a real conversation where there was real understanding between the two of us. It’s what caused me to recommend to the president that I thought the time would in fact permit us to have a real opportunity to do something historic.”
Asked about conversations with China to keep up sanctions pressure, Pompeo said the Chinese foreign minister assured him Wednesday that Beijing would continue to abide by all United Nations sanctions, though Pompeo noted that was in the context of the summit still happening.
“We haven’t seen anything to suggest they’ve violated the Security Council resolutions in a substantial way,” Pompeo said of China. “The global pressure campaign that has been put in place is important and needs to continue, perhaps even this morning more than yesterday. That’s very important so that we can ultimately get to the right place here.”
Pompeo would not respond to a question on whether Trump informed allies such as South Korea of its decision prior to making it public
Asked what the Trump administration does from here, Pompeo said it will continue the so-called maximum pressure campaign.
“In some ways, it’s situation normal. The pressure campaign continues,” he said.