Given the Trump administration's goal of a complete, verifiable denuclearization of North Korea during President Trump's first term, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is eager to maintain U.S.-North Korean engagement. As he prepares for upcoming discussions with the North Koreans, he is leaving one tool conspicuously on the table: the prospect of an official declaration to end the Korean War.
"It's hard to know. I don't want to prejudge precisely where we'll end up," Pompeo said this week when asked if President Trump and Kim Jong Un could sign a declaration to end the war at their next summit. "But make no mistake about it, there is real progress being made."
By leaving open the possibility, Pompeo is affirming that the U.S. is open to some form of negotiation with the North Koreans to achieve denuclearization -- and he's showing up armed with more than just demands. The Trump administration, which argues its efforts have averted war, insists it will press forward with the conversations with North Korea after a late summer stall in the dialogue.
Mr. Trump has said his next meeting with Kim will happen "in the not too distant future," at a "location to be determined" -- but not Singapore.
Until there is "final, full-verified" denuclearization, Pompeo says crippling U.S. sanctions against North Korea will remain in place, but the U.S. is using the prospect of a potential end of war declaration to keep the North Koreans at the table.
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