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Mike Pompeo is en route to North Korea for his third trip on denuclearization talks

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departs the Singapore Summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (U.S. State Department/Flickr)
July 05, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Joint Base Andrews early this morning for his third trip to North Korea, his first since President Trump and Kim Jong Un spoke in Singapore last month.

It’s also Pompeo’s first overnight trip to North Korea. He is expected to spend Friday and Saturday meeting with North Korean officials for further discussions on denuclearization, the Washington Examiner reported.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert spoke to the press on Tuesday about the meetings.

“We go into this eyes wide open,” she said. “We obviously have a whole lot to talk about. We have at least a day and a half of meetings planned.”

“The Secretary is looking forward to having meetings with his North Korean counterparts,” Nauert added, saying that Pompeo “has been very clear and very blunt with the North Koreans on what he expects.”

The agreement signed by President Trump and Kim at the Singapore summit contains little specificity on the expectations for North Korea. The agreement expressed the commitment to “establish new relations” and “build lasting and stable peace.”

The agreement also required North Korea to “work towards complete denuclearization,” and the recovery and return of U.S. service members’ remains from the Korean War.

However vague the language in the agreement, Pompeo and President Trump have been clear on the expectations of North Korea to dismantle its nuclearization efforts, including all nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

Pompeo has said the “complete denuclearization” effort is one that is verifiable and irreversible. He added that sanctions will continue until this is achieved.

Pompeo said that few details will be released during negotiations with North Korea.

Despite the agreement, North Korea has not visibly complied with the agreement so far. U.S. officials believe North Korea has ramped up some nuclearization efforts at secret facilities.

At least a dozen U.S. officials with knowledge of unreported intelligence assessments told NBC News that North Korea has increased nuclear weapons fuel production in recent months in an effort to maintain its nuclear weapons program.

One official said: “There’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production. There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.”

Another official said: “There are lots of things that we know that North Korea has tried to hide from us for a long time.”

At Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that the U.S. and North Korea have already made progress and established a framework for ongoing negotiations.

“In the last eight months, you haven’t seen missile launches, you haven’t seen nuclear detonations,” Sanders said. “Again, these conversations are continuing to evolve – I’m not going to get into the details, but I can tell you that progress continues to be made.”

After North Korea, Pompeo will make visits to Tokyo, Hanoi and Abu Dhabi. He will then travel to Brussels for the NATO Summit on July 10.