WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said despite North Korea test-firing several missiles the US will continue to work toward denuclearization.
“We still have every intention of negotiating a good resolution with North Korea to get them to denuclearize,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve known it would be a long path. We’ve known it would not be straightforward. But I have extended our negotiating hand to North Korea since Hanoi. We’ve heard back from them.”
Trump displayed a similar willingness in a Saturday tweet, saying he believed “Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea & will do nothing to interfere or end it.”
“He also knows that I am with him & goes not want to break his promise to me,” Trump wrote. “Deal will happen!”
On Saturday morning, North Korea fired several short-range missiles toward the Sea of Japan.
“Here’s what we know so far. The launches, and there were several, were short-range, I don’t want to say exactly how long, we’re still working to ensure we have the data set right,” Pompeo told Fox’s Chris Wallace. “We have high confidence they were not intermediate-range missiles, that they were not long-range missiles, weren’t intercontinental missiles.”
Pompeo wouldn’t identify if the missiles were a new type of weapon North Korea was testing, leaving that determination up to the Department of Defense.
“We are continuing to evaluate that data set,” Pompeo added.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said the administration should “stop pussyfooting around” with the reclusive regime.
“They’ve increased the number of missile tests. They’re doing other bad things. And Putin is aiding and abetting it,” Schumer said during a news conference on Sunday. “So I think the president has got to stop treating Vladimir Putin as a friend and tell him he’s got to tow the line or there will be consequences. He’s aiding and abetting North Korea in his adventurism.”
The secretary of state also indicated that he didn’t believe the tests violated North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on missile testing.
“The moratorium was focused, very focused on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States for sure,” Pompeo said.
The moratorium has been in place since November 2017 and is something President Trump has largely taken credit for.
But in February Trump’s second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended abruptly and without a broader deal.
In interviews with Wallace and with ABC News’ Jon Karl, Pompeo was asked to defend criticism from Americans and from North Koreans over negotiations.
The North Koreans have personally complained about Pompeo’s handling of negotiations saying they would prefer to deal with someone “more careful and mature.”
The secretary of state laughed off the dig in his sit-down with Wallace.
“The maturity thing, I’m not so sure of,” he answered. “The rest of it, I’ll let the world decide.”
The administration’s efforts to improve relations with North Korea have been criticized this week by Cindy Warmbier, whose son Otto Warmbier left the hermit kingdom in a vegetative state and died shortly upon his return to the United States.
On Friday, she called North Korea a “cancer on the earth” that’s “going to kill all of us.” She called diplomacy with the country “a charade.”
Pompeo responded to a question from Karl by calling Warmbier a “noble, wonderful, gracious woman” whom he said he had “enormous sympathy for.”
Asked if U.S. diplomacy with North Korea was on the rocks, Pompeo said, “It always seems that way until it’s successful.”
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