US wants North Korea to be ‘close partner’ like other former enemies

Ns News Online DeskNs News Online Desk: The US wants North Korea to be a “close partner” and not an enemy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday, noting that America in the past had become staunch allies of former enemies like Germany and Japan.

Pompeo said that’s the message he delivered to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a brief visit to Pyongyang earlier this week, during which he finalized details of the upcoming June 12 summit between Kim and President Trump and secured the release of three Americans imprisoned in the country.

He said his talks with Kim on Wednesday had been “warm,” “constructive” and “good” — and that he made clear that if the North gets rid of its nuclear weapons in a permanent and verifiable way, the US was willing to help the impoverished nation boost its economy and living standards to levels like those in prosperous South Korea.

“We had good conversations about the histories of our two nations, the challenges that we have had between us,” Pompeo told reporters at a news conference with South Korea’s visiting foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha. “We talked about the fact that America has often in history had adversaries who we are now close partners with and our hope that we could achieve the same with respect to North Korea,” he said.

While Kim has offered to halt nuclear testing, research and development, the dictator had not promised to dismantle his entire nuclear arsenal.

Kang praised the upcoming meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore as an “historic” opportunity, but added a few notes of skepticism as well.Since Trump announced plans to hold a summit with Kim, questions have been raised about whether the two leaders have the same objective in mind when they speak about “denuclearization.” To the US, that means the North giving up the nuclear weapons it has already built. But North Korea has said it’s willing to talk now because it’s already succeeded in becoming a nuclear-armed state, fueling skepticism that the North would truly be willing to give those weapons up.

Pompeo said there would need to be “complete” and “verifiable” denuclearization that would remove North Korea as a threat to the South, the US and the rest of the world. “I think there is complete agreement about what the ultimate objectives are,” Pompeo said, though he declined to offer more detail.

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