Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday brushed aside North Korea's accusation of "gangster-like" demands, maintaining that his third visit was producing results but vowing that sanctions would remain until Kim Jong Un follows through on his pledge to get rid of his nuclear weapons. The North's statement, coming so soon after Pompeo's trip, was sure to fuel growing skepticism in the US over how serious Kim is, reports the AP. "If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster," Pompeo said, noting numerous UN Security Council resolutions that demand the North end its program. "People are going to make stray comments after meetings." Pompeo allowed that denuclearization would be difficult and that much work remains. "The road ahead will be difficult and challenging and we know critics will try to minimize what we have achieved," he said.
Two days of talks with senior North Korean officials had "made progress," he said, and included a "detailed and substantive discussion about the next steps." Those include the formation of working group to determine exactly how North Korea's denuclearization will be verified and a Thursday meeting with Pentagon officials to discuss the return of remains of Americans soldiers killed during the Korean War. Pompeo sought to dispel suggestions that the Trump administration has backed down from demanding the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the North's nuclear weapons. He said North Korea understood that denuclearization must be "complete" and "verified." However, Pompeo said the progress achieved thus far did not warrant any concessions. "While we are encouraged by the progress of these talks, progress alone does not justify the easing of the sanctions regime."
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