SEOUL/WASHINGTON, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Wednesday to discuss details of the upcoming summit between the two countries, the Associated Press reported.
Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang marks the second in just over a month as U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late May or early June. His trip also followed the North Korean leader's visit to China earlier this week for his second summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in about 40 days.
"We've continued to develop both administratively and sort of begin to put some outlines around the substance of the agenda for the summit," Pompeo told reporters en route to North Korea, according to a transcript released by the Department of State.
"And today we're hoping to nail some of those down ... to put in place a framework for a successful summit between the two presidents," he said.
Trump has said his aim is to get rid of the North's nuclear weapons, and Kim has repeatedly expressed a commitment to denuclearization, although it's unclear on what terms.
Pompeo said the U.S. has no interest in following a step-by-step process, which, under past administrations, failed to end the North's nuclear ambitions.
"We're not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives," he said. "We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure. That won't lead to the outcome that I know Kim Jong-un wants and I know President Trump is demanding."
Pompeo said he hopes to establish a "set of conditions" that will give North Korea an opportunity to have a "historic, big change" in its security relationship with the U.S., and achieve the U.S. goal of a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.
"We think there's enough that's been discussed that it's important for me to sit with senior North Korean leaders and try and make a big move towards making sure we're prepared for the summit," the top American diplomat said, adding that he's unsure whether he will meet with Kim.
The Trump-Kim meeting has heightened expectations for the release of three American detainees in the North.
"We have been asking for the release of these detainees ... for 17 months," Pompeo said. "We'll talk about it again today. I think it'd be a great gesture if they would choose to do so."
Source: Yonhap News Agency