Trump deploys Pompeo to North Korea to prepare summit

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a meeting at the State Department May 7, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea for planning the upcoming landmark summit between Washington and Pyongyang.

Trump revealed on Tuesday that Pompeo was on his way to Pyongyang to prepare for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which is expected to take place later this month or early in June.  

"At this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un," Trump said in a televised address from the White House.

"We have our meeting schedule. We have our meeting set. The location is picked. The time and date. Everything is picked. And we look forward to having a very great success," he added.

"We think relationships are building with North Korea. We will see how it all works out. Maybe it won't. But it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea and the entire world," Trump noted.

Last month, the North Korean leader agreed for a meeting with Trump after Pompeo, while he was still the CIA chief, met with him secretively in Pyongyang.

Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations. The US has imposed many rounds of sanctions on North Korea, has substantial military presence near the country, and has numerously threatened to invade it over its weapons programs.

If held successfully, the Trump-Kim summit — a first between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president — would not only mark a sudden change in America’s posture toward North Korea but could also potentially lead to the easing of restrictions on North Korea.

In addition to planning the unprecedented summit, Pompeo has allegedly been pressing North Korea to release three detained US citizens as a gesture of sincerity before the summit.

While Trump said it would be a "great thing" if the three Korean-Americans were freed, the US secretary of state speaking to reporters en route to Pyongyang said he had not received a commitment for their release but hoped North Korea would "do the right thing."

"We've been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months," Pompeo said. "We'll talk about it again. It'd be a great gesture if they'd agree to do so."

Pompeo also expressed hope about outlining a set of conditions that would create the opportunity for a change in the security relationship between Washington and Pyongyang.

"We are not going to head down the path we headed down before," he said. "We will not relieve sanctions until such time as we have achieved our objectives."

Tensions were running high between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

Trump and Kim have repeatedly traded insults and threats of military attacks that raised fears of a war between Pyongyang and Washington in recent months.

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