Pompeo: Military Exercises Contingent on ‘Productive Good-Faith Negotiations’ with North Korea

By Melanie Arter | June 13, 2018 | 4:54 PM EDT

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s commitment to end joint military exercises in South Korea is contingent on productive negotiations with North Korea.

When asked whether the decision to end joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises in South Korea was open-ended or whether they would resume should the U.S. find that the North Koreans were not engaging seriously in talks, Pompeo said Trump “made it very clear that the condition precedent for the exercises not to proceed was a productive, good-faith negotiations being ongoing.”

“And at the point it’s concluded that they are not, the president’s commitment to not have those joint exercises take place will no longer be in effect. I mean, he was unambiguous about that and how he communicated it both I think at the press conference but certainly when he was with Chairman Kim as well,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo clarified that Trump is the lead in North Korea talks but that the secretary of State will take “the role of driving this process forward.”

“I don’t know exactly what the timing will be for our next conversation with North Korea. I would anticipate it will be fairly quickly after we return to our home countries. I don’t know exactly what form that will take, but I’m very confident that by some time in the next week or so we will begin the engagement,” the secretary said.

“There was a great deal of work done over days and days and days in Panmunjom that led to the discussions that took place there in Singapore for whatever it was, 70 hours or 60 hours, whatever the two sets of teams were on the ground,” he said.

“Not all of that work appeared in the final document, but lots of other places where there were understandings reached. We couldn’t reduce them to writing, so that means there’s still some work to do, but there was a great deal of work done that is beyond what was seen in the final document that will be the place that we’ll begin when we return to our conversations,” Pompeo added.

When asked why Trump used the term “provocative” to describe U.S. military exercises in South Korea when that’s a term often used by North Korea and China and that the U.S. has in the past explained that the exercises are long planned and for purposes of readiness, Pompeo said, “I think the president was very clear. His intention here was to put us in a place where we get the opportunity to have productive conversations connected to the denuclearization of North Korea.”

Pompeo stressed that the United States’ mission “hasn’t changed.” He said “a lot has been made of the fact that the word ‘verifiable’” doesn’t appear in the agreement signed by the U.S. and North Korea. However, he said the term ‘complete’ “encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned.”

“One can’t completely denuclearize without validating, authenticating – you pick the word. The president’s committed to that. He believes that having made this commitment to Chairman Kim, that so long as we were making progress and having good-faith, productive conversations that we were setting the right conditions for moving forward with those talks. I think that’s what the president was thinking of when he made that commitment to him,” Pompeo said.


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