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Pompeo 'hopeful' North Korea will move toward denuclearization in Trump's first term

Pompeo 'hopeful' North Korea will move toward denuclearization in Trump's first term
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US State Dept. denies report Pompeo heard recording of Khashoggi's murder The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE said Wednesday that the Trump administration wants to see North Korea take concrete steps toward denuclearization before the end of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE's first term.

In remarks to reporters in South Korea reported by Bloomberg News, Pompeo said that the U.S. wants quick progress on North Korea's pledge to dismantle its nuclear program.

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“We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in, what was it, the next two and a half years,” Pompeo said Wednesday. “We’re hopeful we can get it done. There’s a lot of work left to do."

He added that, while the specifics of the plan have yet to be hammered out, that understanding between the two nations was inked into the agreement signed by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

“I suppose we could argue semantics, but let me assure you it’s in the document,” Pompeo told reporters. “I am confident that they understand what we’re prepared to do, the handful of things that we’re likely not prepared to do.”

“I am equally confident that they understand there will be in-depth verification," Pompeo added.

During the briefing, the secretary rebuked a journalist who asked why the "complete" and "verifiable" denuclearization of North Korea was not in the document signed between the two leaders.

“I find that question insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous. I just have to be honest with you, it’s a game, it’s a game, and one ought not play games with serious matters like this," he said.

Pompeo and other U.S. officials have stated for weeks that any relaxation of U.S. sanctions on North Korea would have to be preceded by major steps toward the end of North Korea's missile program.

"These discussions that’ll take place tomorrow between Chairman Kim and President Trump will set the framework for the hard work that will follow,” Pompeo told reporters Monday before talks began.

“And we’ll see how far we get, but I’m very optimistic that we will have a successful outcome from tomorrow’s meeting between these two leaders.”

The agreement signed by Trump and Kim pledges unspecified "security guarantees" from the U.S. in exchange for “the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," but it offers few details and no timetable. 

It does commit to further negotiations between Pompeo and a “relevant” North Korean official at “the earliest date possible.”