US should provide 'security assurances' to North Korea: Pompeo admits

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo released by the US government on April 26, 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) shakes hands with Mike Pompeo, in Pyongyang. (Via AFP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has acknowledged that the United States needs to provide “assurances” to North Korean leader that it will not seek to overthrow him before the two countries can forge a nuclear agreement.

Pompeo was asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether the US was willing to assure Kim John-un he could stay in power if he met the US demands to dismantle North Korean nuclear weapons.

The top diplomat responded that, "We will have to provide security assurances, to be sure."

“This has been the trade-off that has been pending for 25 years,” he added.

Pompeo did not elaborate, but his comment appeared to refer to the type of assurances Pyongyang has demanded in the past.

During international negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in 2005, the country said the United States affirmed that “it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons."

In a separate interview on Sunday, Pompeo was pressed whether the US would seek regime change in North Korea. Pompeo said, "Only time will tell how these negotiations will proceed."

"The president uses language that says 'we'll see,'" he told CBS's "Face the Nation," adding that the president is entering negotiations with “eyes wide open.”

Pompeo met with Kim last week in North Korea, helping set the stage for President Donald Trump's historic meeting with the North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12.

The upcoming talks are being hailed as a personal achievement by Trump, who has berated Kim as a "mad man" and a "rocket man on a suicide mission," and threatening him with "fire and fury."

"No president has ever put America in a position where the North Korean leadership thought that this was truly possible that the Americans would actually do this, would lead to the place where America was no longer held at risk by the North Korean regime," Pompeo said.

Trump has set an ambitious goal for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arsenal in exchange for the US helping the country strengthen its economy.

Last month, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the White House had “very much in mind the Libya model” of 2003-2004 to denuclearize North Korea. Former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi agreed to abandon his nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief. However, he was overthrown years later and killed by US-backed rebels.

Foreign policy experts studying North Korea cite Qaddafi’s fate as the main source of Pyongyang’s distrust for Washington.

Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the US from the international nuclear agreement with Iran could also complicate negotiations with North Korea.


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