Kim Jong-un has agreed to hold a second summit with US President Donald Trump “as soon as possible”, South Korea said, after Washington’s top diplomat held “productive” talks on denuclearisation with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Kim on Sunday morning for around two hours of talks followed by lunch in the North Korean capital, before flying to Seoul as part of his three-day East Asia tour aimed at breaking a deadlock on nuclear negotiations.
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Pompeo said “he agreed with Chairman Kim to hold the second US-North Korea summit at the earliest date possible,” according to a statement by South Korea‘s presidential office, although no specific time or location has yet been announced.
The US Department of State said Pompeo and Kim had “refined options” for the location and date of the summit.
The two also discussed “denuclearisation steps that will be taken by North Korea and the issue of attendance by the US government,” as well as “corresponding measures” to be taken by the US, the South Korean statement said.
The visit was Pompeo’s fourth to Pyongyang, who hailed the meeting with the North Korean leader as a success.
“We had a good, productive conversation,” Pompeo told South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday.
“As President Trump said, there are many steps along the way and we took one of them today. It was another step forward and I think this is a good outcome for all of us.”
Kim also praised their “nice meeting”, telling Pompeo via an interpreter following the morning’s talks that it was “a very nice day that promises a good future for both countries.”
Trump met Kim in Singapore in June for the first-ever summit between the countries, during which the North Korean leader pledged to work towards “denuclearisation”, but there has been no agreement on how to put that into action.
In a tweet on Sunday, Trump said: “Progress made on Singapore Summit Agreements! I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future.”
.@SecPompeo had a good meeting with Chairman Kim today in Pyongyang. Progress made on Singapore Summit Agreements! I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future. pic.twitter.com/bUa2pkq80s
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2018
Since the Singapore summit, the road towards better ties has been bumpy.
Washington and Pyongyang have sparred over the exact terms of the vaguely worded agreement in Singapore, with the US pushing to maintain sanctions and pressure against North Korea until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation”.
Pompeo was scheduled to meet Kim earlier in August, but Trump asked his top diplomat to call off the trip at the time, citing insufficient progress on denuclearisation.
During their meeting on Sunday, Pompeo and Kim also agreed to form a working group “at an early date” to discuss the denuclearisation process and the second summit, according to Moon’s press secretary Yoon Young-chan.
Kim also invited inspectors to visit Punggye Ri nuclear test site to confirm it had been “irreversibly dismantled,” according to a statement from US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the South Korean capital, Seoul, said Pompeo’s meeting with Kim has “been taken as a positive sign that dialogue is still on track.”
Pompeo visited Tokyo on Friday and is also due to travel to Beijing before returning home on Monday.
“This is a busy time diplomatically,” said Al Jazeera’s McBride.
“North Korea’s deputy foreign minister is currently in Moscow for talks with Chinese and Russian officials,” he reported. “Its thought to try to continue North Korea’s lobbying effort for a lifting of sanctions.”