Pompeo: 'Bad deal' with North Korea 'not an option' for US

Secretary of state says US has no intention of making concessions to North Korea amid reports of differences.

    Mike Pompeo has said the US is prepared to walk away from negotiations with North Korea if upcoming talks on its nuclear weapons programme head in the wrong direction.

    Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Commitee on Wednesday, the US secretary of state said talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are "still scheduled for June 12" despite reports of differences between the two sides.

    However, a "bad deal is not an option," he said. 

    "The American people are counting on us to get this right. If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away."

    Pompeo, who has met Kim in Pyongyang twice in recent weeks to prepare the groundwork for the summit with Trump, said the US has no intention of making concessions to Pyongyang.

    "Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula," he said.

    Strategic shift

    In their most recent meeting two weeks ago, Pompeo said he and Kim spoke about their mutual goals for the talks.

    "We still have lots of work to do to find common ground," he said.

    But Kim "has shared candidly that he understands that economic growth for his people, the well-being of his people, depends on a strategic shift", he said.

    In exchange for denuclearisation, Kim wanted "economic help from America in the form of private sector business's knowledge and know-how" as well as security guarantees, he said.

    Pompeo, a former CIA director, was appointed as the US' top diplomat on April 26. 

    Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said Pompeo's main priority as secretary of state is to address global nuclear proliferation.

    "Under that umbrella, you have North Korea and you have Iran," she said. "It was clear from his speech that this is an administration that is defensive on Iran but optimistic on North Korea."

    Addressing Iran's nuclear programme, Pompeo, a former CIA chief, told the hearing that the Trump administration intends to work with "as many partners, friends and allies as possible" to stop what he described as all of the country's nuclear and non-nuclear threats.

    Trump announced earlier this month that he was pulling the US out from a 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, and re-imposing sanctions on the country.

    The other signatories to the pact - Germany, France, UK, France and Russia - have strongly opposed the move.

    Is North Korea changing its priorities?

    Inside Story

    Is North Korea changing its priorities?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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