But follow-up talks have struggled to build on the ambiguous statement, and North Korea declared Thursday it would never give up its nuclear weapons unless the USA takes reciprocal steps, The Associated Press reported.
Pompeo's optimism comes despite an apparent standstill in negotiations to prepare for the summit, with a senior North Korean official abruptly cancelling a meeting with the secretary of state scheduled last month in NY.
After a flurry of activity surrounding this spring's summit with U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the pace of public diplomatic activity has slowed.
Your guess is as good as mine, but by looking at how far we have come from the tense days of 2017, from "fire and fury" to President Trump declaring his "love" for Chairman Kim Jong Un just recently to now what appears to be an impasse, we know 2019 will keep all Korea watchers quite busy for sure. Relations between the Koreas have improved this year, with the North entering disarmament talks with a vague promise to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
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The U.S. special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, paid a visit this morning to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom.
Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled amid North Korea's refusal to supply the US with a detailed account of its nuclear and missile facilities. The North's state media recently warned that the United States' continued commitment to sanctions and criticism about the North's human rights record could "block the path to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula forever".
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met Kim three times this year and lobbied hard for the Trump-Kim meeting, has said Kim wasn't demanding the withdrawal of USA troops from the Korean Peninsula as a precondition for abandoning his nuclear weapons.
Trump has said a second summit with Kim is likely to take place in January or February, though he wrote on Twitter last week that he is "in no hurry".
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Meanwhile, North Korea has evaded sanctions through illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil and also expanded its missile facilities, according to recent news reports.
The nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang stalled since the Trump-Kim meeting.
"I don't want to split words, and I think our policy has been clear", State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters Tuesday. Confirmation of the location, size and use of each site is a key USA demand in the ongoing talks.
Biegun is expected to discuss inter-Korean issues with Cho amid USA concerns that Seoul may be moving too quickly with Pyongyang relative to the lacklustre progress on denuclearisation.
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"The sooner North Korea denuclearizes, the sooner sanctions can be lifted", he said at a regular press briefing.