U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed for North Korea Friday as pressure mounts to deliver results on the denuclearization of the regime.
Pompeo's fourth trip to Pyongyang comes as the two sides are working to set up a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
And the meeting between Pompeo and Kim in Pyongyang Sunday is expected to be an indicator of whether the parties can close their gap in implementing an agreement reached at the first summit in June to pursue "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him, Pompeo said the two sides need to build trust -- something the North Korean foreign minister said just days ago that the U.S. wasn't demonstrating, with its continued pressure through sanctions and refusal to declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
"Each side has to develop sufficient trust so they can take the actions necessary to get to the end, and then we're also going to set up the next summit," Pompeo said on a stop in Anchorage, Alaska.
"So we hope to at least -- I doubt we'll get it nailed, but begin to develop options for both location and timing that Chairman Kim will meet with the president again. Maybe we'll get further than that."
The first summit was held in Singapore, and Trump has ruled out the Southeast Asian nation as the site of the second summit.
Pompeo said while the date and location may be set during his upcoming visit, they probably would not be announced right away.
He refused to discuss the details of the negotiations, including whether the U.S. will accept North Korea's demands for an end-of-war declaration as a trust-building step.
The conflict closed in an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the sides technically at war.
The U.S. has sought concrete steps toward denuclearization, such as an inventory of the North's nuclear arsenal and the dismantlement of the nuclear program with verification by outside inspectors.
"I believe what Chairman Kim and the president agreed to is fundamentally different" from past denuclearization agreements that ultimately broke down, Pompeo said.
"It's this idea that we will get to denuclearization in a fully verified, irreversible way and then we will actually deliver on the commitments to make this brighter future for the North Korean people," he said.
"And I think Chairman Kim, too -- when I've spoken to him, when I've heard the president speak to him, when I've seen his public remarks -- he's given every indication that that's his intention, too, that he understands that this is the right thing for North Korea and that he wants to be part of delivering this great outcome for his people."
Source: Yonhap News Agency