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Kim knows the stakes, Pompeo tells Congress

May 25,2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told congressional members in Washington on Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un understood that his country’s economic prosperity hinges on a “strategic shift” which, in Pompeo’s words, would result in “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“In my conversations with him, we’ve talked about what our mutual goals are,” Pompeo said. “He has shared candidly that he understands that economic growth for his people and the wellbeing of his people depends on a strategic shift, and we hope he’s prepared to make that.”

Pompeo was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the State Department’s 2019 budget request, but congressional members were also interested in Pompeo’s two trips to Pyongyang in the past month.

“Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Pompeo said, adding that he stressed to Kim how important it was “for America to understand that there had been real denuclearization.”

Pompeo said Kim expected to receive economic help from the United States in the form of private sector investment, knowledge transfer and foreign assistance.

Kim, he said, also wanted security assurances from the world and a peace treaty between the two Koreas that would formally end hostility between them. Fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War technically ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

He assured the committee that the Trump-Kim summit would happen on June 12. In the past two weeks, the North threatened to pull out of the summit in a show of diplomatic brinkmanship. On Thursday, it made a second threat to walk away from the meeting and accused the United States of offending it by referring to Libya as a template to denuclearize the North.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce, the committee’s chairman, asked Pompeo whether the United States had made a concession to North Korea by pulling B-52 bombers from a military exercise with South Korea. Pompeo told him to refer to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on the matter but said, “It is my view that we have made zero concessions to Chairman Kim to date, and we have no intention of doing so.”

South Korea reportedly pulled out of a joint military exercise involving B-52 bombers from the United States last week, saying it did not want to generate tension before the Trump-Kim summit.

On Wednesday, Pompeo also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and said in a joint press conference that China, the United States, South Korea and Japan are committed to a “bright future” for North Korea if it is willing to denuclearize. “Until that time arrives, the pressure will continue,” he said, referring to sanctions.

“China is firmly committed to denuclearization,” Wang said, but “it is necessary to address the legitimate security concerns” of North Korea.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]