WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is engaged in patient diplomacy to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons but will not let the process "drag out to no end," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
Briefing the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his July 5-7 visit to North Korea, Pompeo said President Donald Trump remained upbeat about the prospects for North Korean denuclearisation and that progress was happening, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un still needed to follow through on commitments made at a June 12 summit with Trump.
Pompeo said U.S. North Korea policy was guided by a principle stated by Trump on July 17 that "diplomacy and engagement are preferable to conflict and hostility," while adding: "We are engaged in patient diplomacy, but we will not let this drag out to no end."
Pompeo said he had emphasized this position in "productive" discussions he had in Pyongyang this month with his North Korean interlocutor Kim Yong Chol.
Questions have been growing since the summit about North Korea's willingness to give up a nuclear weapons programme that now threatens the United States.
Kim committed in a summit statement to work towards denuclearisation but Pyongyang has offered no details as to how it might go about this.
Pompeo left Pyongyang on July 7 saying he had made progress on key issues, only for North Korea to accuse his delegation hours later of making "gangster-like" demands.
Trump said last week there was "no rush" and "no time limit" on the denuclearisation negotiations, but Pompeo has given varying statements about how patient Washington might be.
Pompeo said after the summit the United States hoped to achieve "major disarmament" by North Korea by the end of Trump's current term in office, which ends Jan. 20, 2021, but subsequently said he would not put a timeline on talks.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by James Dalgleish)
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Updated Date: Jul 26, 2018 02:05:53 IST