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Pompeo Downplays N Korea Summit Chance 07/16 06:23

   U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the possibility of another 
summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 
before the U.S. presidential election, saying Trump would only want to engage 
if there were real prospects of progress.

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed 
the possibility of another summit between President Donald Trump and North 
Korean leader Kim Jong Un before the U.S. presidential election, saying Trump 
would only want to engage if there were real prospects of progress.

   South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has called for another Trump-Kim 
meeting ahead of the election in November, acknowledged Thursday that U.S. and 
South Korean relations with North Korea were still like "walking on ice" after 
two years of high-stakes summitry.

   During a parliamentary speech, Moon urged North Korea to return to 
inter-Korean dialogue, which has also stalled, and called for South Korean 
lawmakers to support government policies aimed at reviving cross-border 
cooperation. He made no direct comment on the prospects for U.S.-North Korea 
talks.

   Pompeo's comments during a forum in Washington on Wednesday followed 
repeated North Korean statements insisting it would no longer gift Trump 
high-profile meetings he could boast as foreign policy achievements when it's 
not being substantially rewarded in return.

   "The North Koreans have given mixed signals, but the truth is President 
Trump only wants to engage in a summit if we believe there's a sufficient 
likelihood that we can make real progress in achieving the outcomes that were 
set forth in Singapore," Pompeo said during the event hosted by The Hill, 
referring to the first Trump-Kim summit in June 2018.

   "You need to have a willing partner, and the North Koreans have chosen at 
this point in time not to engage in a way that can lead to a potential 
solution. We hope they'll change their mind."

   Trump and Kim have met three times since embarking on high-stakes nuclear 
diplomacy in 2018, beginning with their meeting in Singapore where they issued 
vague vows for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how 
it would occur.

   But negotiations have faltered since their second summit in February 2019, 
where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in 
exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.

   Some analysts believe North Korea will avoid serious talks with the 
Americans for now before attempting an eventual return to negotiations after 
the U.S. election. They say North Korea likely doesn't want to make any major 
commitments or concessions when there is a chance U.S. leadership could change.

   But others say another Trump-Kim meeting wouldn't be impossible. Trump could 
opt for something dramatic to improve his sliding poll numbers while Kim could 
see a window of opportunity closing with a Trump presidency and attempt a quick 
exchange between reversible denuclearization steps and hard-to-reverse 
sanctions relief.

   Amid the stalled negotiations the Trump administration, North Korea has been 
ramping up pressure on the South, cutting off virtually all bilateral 
cooperation and blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory last 
month.

   The made-for-TV demolition followed months of North Korean frustration over 
Seoul's unwillingness to defy U.S.-led sanctions and restart joint economic 
projects that would help revive the North's broken economy.

   In a statement last week, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North 
Korean leader, said she doesn't expect another summit with the United States 
this year, insisting that such a meeting would be "unpractical" for the North.

   But she also said "you never know," saying that a meeting would depend on 
the determination of the two leaders, and called for major concessions from 
Washington to keep alive the nuclear diplomacy.

   The prolonged stalemate in nuclear talks have raised doubts on whether Kim 
Jong Un would ever agree to fully relinquish the weapons he likely sees as his 
strongest guarantee of survival. Some experts see him as trying to shape the 
diplomacy as an arms reduction negotiation between nuclear states rather than 
talks that would culminate in a surrender of his nuclear program.

 
 
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