WASHINGTON, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the U.S. still has "every intention" to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program despite its weapons tests over the weekend.
In an interview with Fox News, Pompeo said the North's launches on Saturday (local time) were "of a short range" and expressed the U.S. government's "high confidence" that they did not involve intermediate, long-range or intercontinental ballistic missiles.
He noted that an evaluation is under way to determine the exact nature of the tests.
"We still have every intention of negotiating a good resolution with North Korea to get them to denuclearize," the secretary said.
"We've known it would be a long path. We've known it wouldn't be straightforward. But I have extended our negotiating hand to the North Koreans since Hanoi. We've heard back from them. I extend my hand to continue those negotiations. We want to continue to work towards a peaceful resolution to achieve denuclearization, fully verified, in North Korea," he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a second summit in Vietnam in February to negotiate the North's denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief from the U.S.
The summit ended without a deal due to differences over the extent of measures each side was willing to take.
Saturday's firings appeared to signal Pyongyang's frustration with Washington over the impasse.
According to North Korean state media, they were part of a "strike drill" for multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons, which was overseen by Kim.
Pompeo refused to characterize the weekend's tests as a violation of the North's self-imposed moratorium on missile testing, in effect since November 2017.
"We'll have to take a look," Pompeo said. "We know our objective. The moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States for sure."
In a tweet Saturday morning, Trump expressed his confidence that Kim will honor his commitment to denuclearization.
"Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it," he wrote. "He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!"
Source: Yonhap news Agency