Pompeo: North Korea ready to invite inspectors to nuclear site

US Secretary of State said 'significant progress' towards denuclearisation made in a meeting with Kim Jong Un.

    North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear testing site has been the site of all six of the country's nuclear tests [File: APTN via The Associated Press]
    North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear testing site has been the site of all six of the country's nuclear tests [File: APTN via The Associated Press]

    International inspectors will be allowed into North Korea's dismantled nuclear testing site, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after a meeting with Kim Jong Un.

    Such an inspection has been one of the main sticking points in making progress on a denuclearisation pledge secured by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader at the historic summit in Singapore earlier this year.

    Speaking to reporters in South Korea's capital, Seoul, on Monday, Pompeo said "significant progress" was made towards the "long process" of denuclearisation during a meeting with Kim on Sunday in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

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    North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, located inside a mountain near the border with China, has been the site of all six of the country's nuclear tests.

    The dismantling of the facility began in May, according to North Korea, but international observers have not been allowed to examine the site to verify claims.

    "Chairman Kim said he's ready to allow them to come in," Pompeo said, adding that inspectors will be allowed in as soon as the US and North Korea agree on "logistics".

    Pompeo told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that the meeting was "another step forward" in the denuclearisation process. Pyongyang also praised the progress made in a statement released to state media.

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    "Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction over the productive and wonderful talks with Mike Pompeo at which mutual stands were fully understood and opinions exchanged," North Korean news agency KCNA said.

    'Positively developing situation'

    The upbeat tone is a marked difference from Pompeo's last visit to Pyongyang, which saw North Korea slam the US for "gangster-like" behaviour in its demands for unilateral disarmament.

    A stalemate followed with the two countries struggling to agree over the exact terms of the vaguely worded deal secured in Singapore, with the US calling for a "final, fully verified denuclearisation" of North Korea, while Pyongyang says more trust is needed.

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    Following the visit to North Korea - his fourth - Pompeo said Kim had also agreed to arrange a second summit with Trump to take place "at the earliest date possible". 

    North Korea's state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, featured eight photos of the meeting on its front page, including shots of Kim and Pompeo smiling and shaking hands.

    "Together with Mike Pompeo, Kim Jong Un appreciated the positively developing situation on the Korean Peninsula," said KCNA.

    The comments come as Pompeo completes a whirlwind diplomatic tour of Asia, visiting North Korea, South Korea and China over three days. 

    Is North Korea's timeline to denuclearise for real?

    Inside Story

    Is North Korea's timeline to denuclearise for real?

    SOURCE: News agencies


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