Pompeo met Kim Yong-chol, who played a key role with Pompeo in arranging last month’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, according to a pool report by reporters traveling with him, Reuters reported.
The talks lasted nearly three hours and it was uncertain whether Pompeo would meet Kim, the report said. He will spend the night in Pyongyang, his first overnight stay in North Korea.
At the Singapore summit, Kim Jong-un made a broad commitment to “work toward denuclearization,” but fell short of details on how or when he would dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program, which it has pursued in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
“The President told me he believes that Chairman Kim sees a different, brighter future for the people of North Korea. We both hope that’s true,” Pompeo said on Twitter after a phone call with Trump as he headed for North Korea.
“Next stop: Pyongyang. I look forward to continuing my meetings with North Korean leaders. There’s much hard work ahead but peace is worth the effort.”
Pompeo said he was seeking to “fill in” some details on North Korea’s commitments and maintain the momentum towards implementing the agreement from the summit, according to the pool report.
Pompeo would try to agree on at least an initial list of nuclear sites and an inventory that could be checked against the available intelligence, US intelligence officials told Reuters.
Also high on the agenda is the issue of the remains of US soldiers missing from the 1950-53 Korean War. Trump said after the Singapore summit that Kim had agreed to send the remains back to the United States.
While, in the past, the Pentagon has said North Korean officials have indicated they had the remains of as many as 200 US troops, a US military official familiar with the procedures for handling remains said it was not clear what North Korea might hand over.
Some US officials and experts have said the change in language amounted to a softening in approach. The State Department said its policy remains unchanged.
Pompeo’s talk, which resume on Sunday, will be closely watched in the region. He is due to meet officials from allies South Korea and Japan in Tokyo also on Sunday.
A spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office would only say South Korea and the United States were working to formulate “constructive measures” on North Korea’s denuclearization.