Info war: North Korea controlled the optics on latest Pompeo visit

by WorldTribune Staff, July 8, 2018

The most recent denuclearization talks with North Korea were “productive and in good faith,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, disputing Pyongyang’s claim that “gangster-like” demands were made by the top U.S. envoy.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: ‘Sanctions will remain in place until final, fully verified denuclearization.’ / Reuters

Reporters accompanying Pompeo described traces of his irritation at the lack of control over the proceedings.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry had said in a statement after Pompeo’s departure from the July 6 meetings, that Pompeo had presented a “unilateral and gangster-like” demand for “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization.

“If those requests were ‘gangster-like’ then the world is a gangster, because there was a unanimous decision at the UN Security Council about what needs to be achieved,” Pompeo said in response.

Writing for Bloomberg Politics on July 8, Nick Wadhams noted that “The specifics of what happened behind closed doors remain unclear. Whether Pompeo somehow annoyed his counterpart, or pressed too hard, or whether the North Koreans are simply reverting to their hot-and-cold tactics, is hard to say. But the (Kim Jong-Un) regime made sure to have the final word, and it was not pleasant.”

Wadhams added: “Despite the lack of progress, the North Koreans showed a keen awareness of broader politics in the U.S. under Trump.” Describing the attention to PR detail by the Pyongyang regime, he wrote:

Between the many hours of talks, the North Koreans sought to put forward an image of bounty and wealth, an alternate reality in a country where much of the population lives in hunger, lacks electricity and has little to no access to the internet or foreign television.

In the guesthouse, each room had bowls of bananas, grapes, oranges and pears that were replenished whenever the occupant was out. The internet speed was fast in each room and the BBC played on flat-screen televisions. In a country laden with the iconography of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, there were no portraits of either man in the compound.

Still, the reminders were there. Guests could roam the grounds and walk a path that surrounded a lake, but were blocked from approaching workers erecting a building nearby. Guards watched surreptitiously from behind a stand of trees.

In a meeting in Tokyo with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts – Kang Kyung-Wha and Taro Kono – Pompeo said “sanctions will remain in place until final, fully verified denuclearization. While we are encouraged by the progress of these talks, progress alone does not justify the relaxation of the existing sanctions regime.

The denuclearization of Korea covers not just nuclear bombs but also missiles, Pompeo said, adding North Korean officials also understand that.

On the trustworthiness issue, he said, “There will be a verification connected to the complete denuclearization,” as President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un agreed to in their Singapore summit last month.

U.S. discussions with North Korea will continue on a lower level in the coming week as Pentagon officials are scheduled to meet North Korean officials at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom.

The North’s Foreign Ministry said, “We still cherish our good faith in President Trump.”


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