Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to travel to Pyongyang this weekend to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; setting the stage for a new round of talks regarding both nations' pledged goal of denuclearizing the region.
Previous meeting: Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-Un shook hands in a breakthrough meeting In April.
Pompeo will also travel to Japan, South Korea and China from October 6-8, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.
After the trip to Pyongyang, Pompeo will head to Seoul, where he will meet President Moon Jae-in, who has helped spearhead the reconciliation efforts with North Korea.
The top USA diplomat had announced last week that he was ready to return to North Korea after meeting the state's foreign minister on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. He made an earlier trip there, in April, when he was director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
"I think it shows momentum that he is paying his fourth trip", Nauert told reporters.
'Of course, we have quite a ways to go but we look forward to the next steps in this conversation, ' she added.
The stalled denuclearization talks were put back on track after North Korea offered to dismantle its major nuclear complex in Yongbyon if the USA took corresponding measures at the inter-Korean summit last month.
On the agenda is likely the planning of a second summit between Kim and President Trump.
The meeting between Pompeo and Kim may also chart a possible second meeting between the two leaders.
"I'm optimistic that we'll come away from that with better understandings, deeper progress, and a plan forward" Pompeo declined to comment on recent negative signals from the North, . including complaints about Washington's apparent reluctance to agree to a declaration to end the Korean War without major concessions. North Korea has placed a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, dismantled parts of weapons testing site, and has pushed for an easing of sanctions before it completely relinquishes its nuclear arsenal.
Pompeo said the day of the Trump-Kim summit he was hopeful that there would be major North Korean disarmament by the end of Trump's term in January 2021.
"There is nothing the USA could get from sanctions and it is no [one] other than them who will be put at disadvantage", the Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, said in an editorial. "I think the two sides adjusted their differences on what initial steps North Korea and the United States will each take", said Koh Yu-hwan, a Dongguk University professor.
Pompeo stressed that in the meantime global sanctions would have to remain in place on North Korea.
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