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Trump and Pompeo disregard Kim's deadline for nuclear talks flexibility

US President Donald Trump speaks alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo have disregarded comments made earlier by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which urged Washington to change its sanctions-based policy by an end-year deadline.

Speaking on Monday in Burnsville, Minnesota, Trump dismissed any removal of US sanctions on Pyongyang and expressed satisfaction with the current pace of negotiations.

“It doesn’t have to move fast. Right now it’s moving along just perfectly. And we have a good relationship, the sanctions are on...there’s a lot of constructive things going on,” said Trump.

Also speaking to reporters on Monday, Pompeo stressed the need for Pyongyang to move towards denuclearization before any further progress could be made.

Pompeo said that Kim had made a commitment to denuclearization and that “we collectively need to see that outcome move forward.”

The comments come days after Kim said the US raised the risk of returning to past tensions following the collapse of his second summit with Trump.

The North Korean leader stressed that another meeting between the two leaders will only be possible if Washington changes its "current way of calculation".

Kim said he would wait “until the end of this year” for Washington to decide.

Pyongyang has already suspended missile and nuclear testing, demolished at least one nuclear test site, and agreed to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility as gestures of goodwill.

North Korea, however, has refused US demands to completely and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program before having sanctions removed.

Consequently, a second summit between Trump and Kim in February collapsed over differences on how far Pyongyang was willing to limit its nuclear program and the degree of US eagerness to ease sanctions.

Trump abruptly walked away from the talks and held a press conference shortly afterwards.

During the presser, Trump said that “he had to walk away” from the talks because of the North's demands to lift all economic sanctions against Pyongyang as a prerequisite to denuclearization.

However, a few hours later, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho offered a completely different breakdown of the summit, telling reporters in a separate presser that Pyongyang had never asked for the removal of all sanctions, but was only seeking their partial removal.

In June last year, the two leaders had met for the first time at a historic summit in Singapore where they agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Negotiations, however, made little progress mainly because Washington refused to lift its crippling sanctions.

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