U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference earlier today (Monday) that Washington is prepared to offer North Korea unprecedented security guarantees, which would go even further than 1994 and 2005 guarantees given by the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Pompeo said he was optimistic that the summit would be a success, but defined success as an agreement that the negotiations should continue. He said the U.S. was “hopeful that this summit will set the conditions for future talks.”
U.S. President Donald Trump said 11 June that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore could “work out very nicely” as officials from both countries met in Singapore to make final preparations for the event.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference on 11 June that preparations were moving quite rapidly and “and we anticipate that they will come to their logical conclusion even more quickly than we anticipated.”
Pompeo said Washington is prepared to offer North Korea unprecedented security guarantees, but did not specify what security assurances Trump would offer Kim. Pompeo made it clear that the security guarantees would go even further than 1994 and 2005 agreements, under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, respectively, in which the United States pledged not to attack North Korea with nuclear or conventional weapons.
“It is the case we are prepared to give security assurances necessary for the North Koreans to engage in … denuclearization,” Pompeo told reporters. “We are prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization isn’t something that ends badly for them.”
He added: “We are prepared to make … security assurances that are different, [more] unique than, what America has been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate.”
Discussions between Trump and Kim will focus on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
The summit provides “an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity” to North Korea, Pompeo said.
But Pompeo declined to indicate that a quick breakthrough was possible, saying instead that the summit should set the framework for “the hard work that will follow.”
He said North Korea must achieve complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, adding that sanctions will not be lifted until that happened.
“If diplomacy does not move in the right direction…those measures will increase,” Pompeo said.
Trump and Kim arrived hours apart on 10 June in Singapore, preparing for the meeting on 12 June on the resort island of Sentosa, which will be the first time a sitting U.S. president will meet with a North Korean leader.
At a working lunch with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Trump voiced optimism, telling Lee, “We’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely.”
On 10 June, Trump had said he would know “within a minute” whether Kim was serious about giving up his nuclear weapons.
Besides Pompeo, Trump’s delegation includes national security adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
The administration’s definition of success in the talks has become considerably more modest since the idea of a summit was first suggested in March. Initially, Trump, criticizing Obama and Buh as weak and indecisive leaders, said that unlike the 1994 and 2005 agreements with North Korea, he will insist on North Kore’s verifiable commitment to total nuclearization, which would be carried out expeditiously. Pompeo earlier today (Monday) said he was optimistic that the summit would be a success, but defined success as an agreement that the negotiations should continue. He said the U.S. was “hopeful that this summit will set the conditions for future talks.”
The more modest expectations for the meeting are reflected in the fact that Kim planned to fly back to North Korea in the early afternoon on Tuesday, leaving little time for actual negotiations.
Analysts told the Guardian that the North Korean position is line with its approach in 1994 and 2005: Pyongyang sees denuclearization as a gradual and somewhat amorphous process, in which both sides take phased reciprocal steps to defuse tensions with the ultimate but distant goal of nuclear disarmament.
The Trump administration appeared to be breaking with the approach of the three previous administrations by insisting on “complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament” (CVID) of North Korea, with the emphasis on unilateral steps by Pyongyang rewarded by U.S. security assurances. But the softening of the administration’s negotiating stance, which now accepts the prospect of open-ended negotiations involving multiple future summits, makes it indistinguishable, in broad terms, from the approach of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.