Trump officials heading into North Korea talks with 'eyes wide open'

Trump officials heading into North Korea talks with 'eyes wide open'
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Trump administration officials said on Sunday that they will remain vigilant as North Korea comes to the negotiating table, pushing back against criticism that they are naïve in the face of Pyongyang’s apparent willingness to participate in talks over its nuclear program.

Both Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Progressive nonprofits sue White House over missing notes from Putin meeting Progressive nonprofits sue White House over missing notes from Putin meeting MORE and national security advisor John Bolton insisted the administration is looking for concrete actions from North Korea, which reportedly said it would dismantle its nuclear program if the United States vows it won't invade.

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In his first Sunday show interview since taking the reins at Foggy Bottom, Pompeo said that while his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “a big deal,” the administration is looking for action from Pyongyang.

“This administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks. We’re going to be very different. We’re going to negotiate in a different way than has been done before,” Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week.”

“We use the word irreversible with great intention. We’re going to require those steps that demonstrate that denuclearization is going to be achieved. We’re not going to make promises. We’re not going to take words. We’re going to look for actions and deeds.” 

Pompeo also said the administration plans to keep up its “pressure campaign” until Pyongyang shows it is dismantling its nuclear capability.

Meanwhile, Bolton said it’s possible there won’t be a deal with North Korea on its nuclear program, an issue that has been a key focus for President Trump since he took office.

“It’s certainly the case that mere words aren’t going to sway anybody,” Bolton told “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump is preparing to meet with Kim at a summit in the coming weeks, but has said he will not allow the United States to be “played” by North Korea.

“We're not going to be played, OK? We’re going to hopefully make a deal, if not that’s fine,” Trump said Friday.

Lawmakers have urged the president to proceed with caution, noting North Korea’s record of unpredictability and prior attempts for discussions that have led to no solution.

“You know, North Korea is very opaque.  They’re a difficult intelligence target,” Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse votes against curtailing warrantless collection of Americans' data Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

“So it is, I think, prudent for us to into this with some skepticism about our own capabilities but also, that means we have to insist upon a rigorous inspection regime in North Korea, something that’s going to be a difficult ask with the North Koreans.  They’re not going to want us roaming about North Korea,” he added.

The remarks follow a historic meeting last week between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Kim, who crossed into the south for the first time.

Trump praised the meeting, saying “good things are happening.”

“After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!” Trump tweeted Friday.

“KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” 

But the president was criticized last week for other remarks, in which he called Kim “very honorable.”

“I would never use the word honorable to describe Kim Jong-un. I think he's better to be able to just call him Rocket Man and to be able to stick with that than honorable, just because he is a ruthless dictator that does public executions of anyone who disagrees,” Republican Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordHillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills MORE (Okla.) told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, referring to Trump’s “rocket man” moniker for Kim.

“The reason that everyone in North Korea agrees with him is because he kills anyone who disagrees with him.  And he has literally starved his own people to be able to help the elites.” 

Bolton during another interview maintained that the administration is committed to discussions, but much remains to be seen.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE is determined to see this opportunity through,” Bolton told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“Hopeful that we can get a real breakthrough, but we're not naive in the in the administration and-and a lot's going to ride on this meeting with Kim Jong Un.”