WASHINGTON, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed confidence Monday that continued sanctions will help achieve North Korea's denuclearization.
Pompeo made the remarks during a talk hosted by U.S. news outlet The Hill, indicating that Washington has no intention to ease pressure on Pyongyang until it dismantles its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
"We're confident as we continue to apply the economic pressure to North Korea that we'll get another opportunity to unlock and get North Korea to denuclearize," the top U.S. diplomat said.
At the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam in February, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un asked for significant sanctions relief in exchange for partial denuclearization.
U.S. President Donald Trump refused to remove the sanctions short of a commitment to completely dismantle all of the North's weapons of mass destruction programs.
The two countries have been at an impasse since that summit ended without an agreement.
Pompeo was asked if a third Trump-Kim summit is likely to happen by the summer.
"Don't know. I don't know," the secretary said. "We want to make sure that we create the conditions where, if we deliver that, if the two leaders get together, that we can make substantial progress."
North Korea has expressed its frustration with the stalled negotiation process and recently called for Pompeo's replacement with a "more careful and mature" negotiator.
He said he has no plans to leave his post.
"The president gets to decide that. We don't get to decide who my counterpart is and President Trump gets to decide who will represent America. I still have the conn," Pompeo said.
He also added to denials by Trump and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that Washington paid Pyongyang to secure the release of American college student Otto Warmbier in 2017.
"I think President Trump made clear at no time in this administration have we paid for any hostage to be released," he said. "We have no intention of doing so. We've been very successful at this approach."
Source: Yonhap news Agency