Pompeo: progress made in Pyongyang talks

David Brunnstrom and Hyonhee Shin
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says progress has been made in talks with North Korea

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he has made progress "on almost all of the central issues" in talks with North Korea, including on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation, but work remained to be done.

Speaking to reporters after a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo said on Saturday the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on the repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

He said they also discussed "modalities" for the destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

Pompeo said he spent "a good deal of time" discussing a denuclearisation timeline and declaration of the North's nuclear and missile facilities.

"I think we made progress in every element of our discussions," he said, according to a pool report from US reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.

"These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there's still more work to be done," he said.

Before leaving North Korea for Tokyo, Pompeo shook hands with his interlocutor, Kim Yong Chol, a top North Korean party official and former spy agency chief, with whom he played a key role in arranging an unprecedented summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.

"We will produce an outcome, results," Kim told Pompeo via a translator, according to the pool report.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo did not meet Kim Jong-un as he had done on his two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.

Asked about reports based on US intelligence assessments that North Korea had continued to develop its nuclear facilities even while engaging in dialogue, Pompeo said the talked about what Kim and Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearisation of North Korea.

Nauert said the July 12 meeting, which Pompeo said would take place at the intra-Korean border, would be at working level and involve US Defence Department officials.

Pompeo reiterated that Trump was "committed to a brighter future for North Korea".

Nauert said Pompeo had been "very firm" on three basic goals: the complete denuclearisation of North Korea, security assurances, and the repatriation of US remains from the 1950-53 Korean War.

Some officials in the State and Defence Departments and in US intelligence agencies are worried Trump has put himself at a disadvantage by overstating the results of the Singapore summit.

Pompeo had said before Singapore Trump would reject anything short of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation".