Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope to North Korean leaders on Wednesday that their nation will have “have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve” should efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula succeed.
“For decades, we have been adversaries,” Pompeo, who arrived Wednesday morning in North Korea, said, according to a Washington Post report. “Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict, take away threats to the world and make your country have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve.”
Pompeo’s visit to North Korea is his second in recent weeks amid preparations for a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The sudden flurry of diplomatic activity between the two nations – who do not technically have diplomatic ties – marks a sharp departure from decades of chilly relations marked mostly by threats from North Korea to destroy the U.S. and its allies.
The secretary of state met Wednesday with two top North Korean officials: Kim Yong Chol, a former intelligence chief, and Ri Su Yong, a former foreign minister who was North Korea’s ambassador to Switzerland when Kim Jong Un attended school there as a boy.
Kim Yong Chol, addressing Pompeo’s delegation, said “everything is going well in Pyongyang now” and that North Korea would focus its energy “into the economic progress of our country.” Those efforts, he said, are “not a result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside,” a reference to the package of heavy economic sanctions imposed on North Korea by the U.S. and its allies.
Pompeo praised his North Korean counterparts for their work so far in negotiating the details for a Trump-Kim summit, the date and location for which the U.S. president said Tuesday have already been selected. Such details have yet to be released publicly.
“There are many challenges along the way. But you have been a great partner in working to make sure our two leaders will have a summit that is successful,” Pompeo said.