Pompeo To Tour Region After UAE-Israel Deal

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. - The United States said July 9, 2020 it would refuse visas for three top Chinese officials and their families over the "horrific and systematic abuses" against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the officials who would be refused entry include Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary for the Xinjiang region who is considered an architect of Beijing's hardline policies on minorities. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

 

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due in Jerusalem on Monday to start a tour focused on Israel’s normalising of ties with the UAE and pushing other Arab states to follow suit.

After meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is set to visit senior figures in Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department said Sunday.

Israel had previously only signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, two neighbours with which it had technically been at war, unlike the United Arab Emirates.

Following the US-sponsored deal announced on August 13, the new partners say they want to promote trade, especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the Emirates, as well as boosting tourism by establishing direct air links.

Key to that plan would be persuading Saudi Arabia to open its airspace, between Israel and the Gulf, to Israeli commercial airlines.

During his visit, Pompeo will “discuss regional security issues related to Iran’s malicious influence (and) establishing and deepening Israel’s relationships in the region,” the State Department said in a statement.

President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, announced in January, saw cooperation between Israel and those Arab countries who, like Israel, see Iran as their main foe.

It also gave the Jewish state a green light to annex parts of the West Bank — something Israel committed to “suspending” under the UAE deal, without saying for how long.

The Palestinians have slammed the UAE’s move as a “stab in the back” while their own conflict with the Jewish state remains unresolved.

But the UAE ambassador to Washington, writing on the front page of Israel’s top-selling daily, said closer ties would benefit everybody.

“They will help move the region beyond the ugly legacy of hostility and conflicts, towards a destiny of hope, peace and prosperity,” he wrote in Yediot Aharonot’s weekend edition.

– F-35 in the crosshairs –

Tel Aviv daily Israel Hayom, a staunch backer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote Sunday that direct talks between the sides on the wording of the deal were close to starting and “a full agreement could be reached within a month.”

 

In this file photo taken on February 9, 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP.

 

A signing ceremony is set to be held at the White House within that timeframe, the paper wrote.

Reports that the agreement hinges on the sale of US F-35 Stealth jets to the Emirates have been vigorously denied by Netanyahu, who says he opposes the move as it could reduce Israel’s regional strategic edge.

“The Emiratis are saying there was a promise there, the Israelis are saying no,” said Joshua Teitelbaum, professor in the department of Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv.

Historically, Israel (which has F-35s) has opposed the sale of advanced weaponry to other Middle East states, even Jordan and Egypt with which it has peace treaties.

But Teitelbaum said that in the past such objections have been finessed, citing the US sale to Israel and Saudi Arabia of F-15 fighters.

“From what I understand arrangements are made that the version that the Arab country gets is not the absolute latest version,” he told AFP.

“Israel is allowed to put certain modifications in the software that allow it to maintain its edge.”

There can also be cost advantages as a sweetener, he said.

“The Israeli F-15s and the Saudi F-15s were made in the same factory” in the US, he went on.

“The fact that Israel gave its wink to the Saudi F-15s allowed the actual price to be lowered for the Israelis, because it allowed the assembly line to run (longer) at that factory.”

– Bahrain, Oman, Sudan? –

The surprise announcement of the Israel-Emirati pact sparked huge speculation on who might be next, with frequent mentions of Bahrain and Sudan, which is turning its back on the Omar al-Bashir era.

Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which for years supported hardline Islamist forces.

Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman was fired last week after he made allegedly unauthorised comments indicating contact had been made with Israel regarding normalising ties.

But the State Department said Pompeo would meet Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during his tour, to “express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”,

He will also meet Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa before meeting UAE foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to discuss the Israel deal, it said.

Saudi Arabia, in keeping with decades of policy by the majority of Arab states, has said it will not follow the UAE’s example until Israel has signed a peace deal with the Palestinians.

AFP

US Offers $15m Reward For Arrest Of Venezuela’s President Maduro

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 21, 2019 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks after meeting Chilean High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas. The US Treasury Department on June 27, 2019 indicted two former influential figures in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government on money laundering and corruption charges. YURI CORTEZ / AFP

 

The United States will offer $15 million for information leading to the arrest of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on drug-trafficking charges, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

Pompeo announced the reward as the Justice Department unveiled charges against Maduro, describing him like a common criminal rather than a head of state as Washington tries to help opposition leader Juan Guaido take power.

“The Venezuelan people deserve a transparent, responsible, representative government that serves the needs of the people — and that does not betray the trust of the people by condoning or employing public officials that engage in illicit narcotics trafficking,” Pompeo said in a statement.

AFP

‘The West Is Winning’ – Pompeo Defends US Global Role

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks on the podium at the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 15, 2020. Christof STACHE / AFP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks on the podium at the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 15, 2020. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday rejected European pessimism about Washington’s retreat from the global stage, saying the death of the transatlantic bond is “grossly overexaggerated”.

“The West is winning and we’re winning together,” Pompeo said at the Munich Security Conference.

The annual gathering of world leaders, generals and diplomats to discuss security challenges has been dominated by fears of diminishing Western influence in the face of a more assertive China and Russia.

Pompeo spoke a day after German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested the United States rejected “even the idea of an international community” and was acting “at the expense of neighbours and partners”.

“Those statements don’t reflect reality. I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly over-exaggerated,” Pompeo said, paraphrasing a famous Mark Twain quote.

He said Washington played a key role in keeping Europe safe by reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank on the border with Russia, and had led a multinational effort to defeat the Islamic State jihadist group.

“Is this an America that ‘rejects the international community’?” he asked.

“The free West has a brighter future than illiberal alternatives.”

He also warned of the threats posed by Russia’s territorial ambitions, China’s military buildup in the South China Sea and Iran’s “campaigns of terror” through proxy conflicts in the Middle East.

In a nod to concerns about European reliance on Russian natural gas, Pompeo also announced that the US would finance energy projects in eastern EU countries.

“The United States –- through our International Development Finance Corporation, and with the support of the US Congress -– intends to provide up to $1 billion in financing to the Central and Eastern European countries of the Three Seas Initiative,” Pompeo told the conference.

“Our aim is to galvanise private sector investment in their energy sectors.”

The pledge comes amid fierce US opposition to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double the country’s gas shipments to Germany.

Washington believes the pipeline will give Russia too much influence over security and economic issues in western Europe.

 

AFP

Pompeo Sees ‘Real Likelihood’ Iran Will Try To Hit US Troops

In this file photo taken on December 11, 2019 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC. AFP

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran will probably try to attack American troops after a US strike killed a top Iranian commander.

“We think there is a real likelihood Iran will make a mistake and make a decision to go after some of our forces, military forces in Iraq or soldiers in northeast Syria,” he told Fox News in remarks aired Sunday.

His comments came as the military advisor to Iran’s supreme leader said there would be a “military” response “against military sites” by Tehran after the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of Iran’s Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of its Revolutionary Guards.

“It would be a big mistake for Iran to go after them,” Pompeo told Fox.

The US has about 60,000 troops in the region, including around 5,200 in Iraq. Washington ordered thousands more soldiers to the region on Friday after Soleimani’s killing.

“We’re preparing for all kinds of various responses,” including cyber attacks, Pompeo told Fox.

China slams Pompeo for ‘Cold War thinking’ in Berlin speech

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands after making press statements prior to talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on November 8, 2019.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands after making press statements prior to talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on November 8, 2019.

 

China on Monday accused Mike Pompeo of “outdated Cold War thinking” after the US Secretary of State warned against a Chinese threat to Western freedoms.

Pompeo — who spoke in Germany on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall — said the Chinese Communist Party “uses tactics and methods to suppress its own people that would be horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans”.

He added that Washington has made clear to Beijing that they should “honour their commitment” to the “one country, two systems” policy that allows Hong Kong rights unseen in the mainland.

In response Beijing slammed Pompeo’s “baseless malicious attacks” on the Chinese government.

Some figures in the US have “attempted to build an ideological wall between Chinese and foreign enterprises,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday at a regular press briefing.

Geng accused Pompeo of ignoring the interest of the American people to pursue personal political goals, and urged him to “abandon his ideological bias and outdated Cold War thinking”.

Pompeo’s visit to Berlin came as Germany prepared to mark three decades since November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, ultimately culminating in the collapse of the communist regime in the east.

Pompeo said on Friday that the United States and its allies should “defend what was so hard-won… in 1989” and “recognise we are in a competition of values with unfree nations”.

His Berlin speech was the latest in a string of hawkish remarks on China by the Secretary of State.

In October, Pompeo called Beijing “truly hostile” to the United States, and vowed to ramp up pressure on China on multiple fronts.

 

AFP

Pompeo To Press Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Murder

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday arrived in Riyadh, where he is set to press Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hold the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi accountable.

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, embarked on his second politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate sparked an international outcry.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters in Qatar, before flying to the Saudi capital.

“We’ll… make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

After landing in Riyadh, Pompeo pushed for Saudi Arabia to continue its investigation into the murder, in talks with Adel al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs, and the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered on October 2 in what Saudi Arabia called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and subsequently straining ties between Riyadh and Washington.

Pompeo’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will be hosted by Prince Mohammed, is part of an extensive eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

Smiles with MBS 

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside international outrage to stand by Prince Mohammed over the murder of Khashoggi, whose corpse was dismembered at the consulate.

His support has come despite the US Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered the murder. A bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown prince responsible for the killing.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people and are seeking the death penalty against five of them. But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

However, Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the oil-rich kingdom, which he sees as a bulwark against common foe Iran and a lucrative buyer of US arms.

Rights groups have called on Pompeo to also press Prince Mohammed over the jailing of women activists in the kingdom, amid claims that some of them faced sexual harassment and torture during interrogation.

“I am struck by what is not included in Pompeo’s itinerary: the brave women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom’s prisons for seeking rights and dignity,” Alia al-Hathloul wrote in The New York Times Sunday.

Hathloul’s sister, Loujain, is among more than a dozen activists arrested last May — just before the historic lifting of Saudi Arabia’s decades-long ban on women drivers.

Gulf crisis 

Pompeo met the Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during his visit to Doha, where he refused to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.”

He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

However, Pompeo later admitted in a Q&A session with US embassy staff in Doha that no progress was made on resolving the issue.

Mediation efforts by the United States, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

AFP

Saudi Arabia Must Hold Khashoggi Killers ‘Accountable’ – Pompeo

Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted In Saudi Arabia' - Govt
Jamal Khashoggi/ AFP

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that he would ask Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure the murderers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held “accountable”.

 

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, spoke ahead of a politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia, which has faced intense international scrutiny over Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters at a press conference in Qatar.

“So, we’ll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

Pompeo is due to travel to Saudi Arabia later on Sunday as part of an eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

He was speaking to journalists in Doha after meeting his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

He will meet the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, before heading to Saudi Arabia.

 Smiles with MBS 

Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in a case which stunned the world and threatened a serious rift between Riyadh and Washington.

The journalist was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Evidence subsequently emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to the crown prince. Washington subsequently demanded a transparent investigation.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people, and are seeking the death penalty against five of them.

But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors despite US intelligence reportedly having evidence that he was behind it.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

However, US President Donald President Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the kingdom, although the US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder.

Washington is eager for regional unity to gain widespread support its fight against Iran.

Pompeo refused on Sunday to comment on reports that Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

 Gulf crisis 

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.

“We’re hopeful that unity in the GCC will increase in the days and weeks and months ahead.”

He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

Washington, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to end the dispute.

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

“It was time for a change and he made his decision to move on but America’s commitment remains unchanged,” said Pompeo of Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday, and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

“This reflects the good and historical relationship between the two countries,” said the Qatari foreign minister.

AFP

US To Host Global Summit On Iran, Says Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during an event for PEPFAR(President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) at the US Department of State November 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

The United States is organizing an international summit in Poland next month, focusing on Iran’s Middle Eastern influence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News.

Pompeo made the announcement in an interview with the network during a regional tour aimed at reassuring US allies after President Donald Trump’s shock decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria, which sparked concerns that Iran’s influence could grow.

“We’ll bring together dozens of countries from all around the world,” Pompeo told Fox.

They will “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence,” the top US diplomat said.

The event will take place on February 13 and 14.

AFP

Fresh Kim-Trump Summit Could Take Place In Early 2019 – Pompeo

 

US officials hope that a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can be scheduled for early 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

“We are hopeful that in the new year, President Trump and Chairman Kim will get together not too long after the first of the year and make even further progress on taking this (nuclear) threat to the United States away from us,” Pompeo said in an interview with KNSS Radio.

AFP

Pompeo To Meet New Mexican Counterpart Over Border Issues

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during an event for PEPFAR(President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) at the US Department of State November 27, 2018, in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet his counterpart from Mexico’s new government Sunday for talks over a possible deal that would see asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims are processed, officials said on Tuesday.

The government of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will be sworn in Saturday, with Marcelo Ebrard as the new foreign minister.

Ebrard already met Pompeo and US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in Houston earlier this month.

Since then, Obrador officials have reportedly reached an agreement with the US for asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their applications are processed in the United States.

President Donald Trump has confirmed the outlines of the agreement, without specifying if it has been formally concluded.

“Those conversations continue. We won’t have a final decision until the new government takes over, which will happen on Saturday,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo and Ebrard would meet in Washington on Sunday.

On Monday, Ebrard is due to meet with Nielsen and other administration officials, Sanders said.

A caravan of thousands of migrants, made up largely of Hondurans who fled Central America in mid-October, has in recent days started to arrive at the US frontier.

Around 500 men, women and children tried on Sunday to illegally cross the border between Tijuana and San Diego.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that the Trump administration gained support from the incoming Mexican administration for a plan to require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their applications to be processed.

But after that report was met by stiff criticism in Mexico, incoming administration officials said that the agreement was not yet final.

AFP

Pompeo Says Kim ‘Ready’ To Invite Inspectors To Nuclear Site

This picture was taken on October 7, 2018, and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 8, 2018, Kim Jong Un has agreed to hold a second summit with US President Donald Trump as soon as possible, Seoul said on October 7, after Washington’s top diplomat held “productive” talks on denuclearization with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang.
KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

International inspectors will be allowed into North Korea’s dismantled nuclear testing site, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, after a meeting with Kim Jong Un in which he said: “significant progress” was made towards denuclearisation.

Pompeo met with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang on Sunday to rekindle stalled denuclearisation talks following a landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

“Chairman Kim said he’s ready to allow them to come in” and see the dismantled Punggye-ri nuclear test site, Pompeo said.

North Korea took apart the Punggye-ri facility in the country’s northeast in May but has yet to allow international observers into the site to verify its claims.

The facility, buried inside a mountain near the border with China, was the staging ground for all six of the North’s nuclear tests.

The inspectors will be allowed in as soon as the two sides agree on “logistics”, Pompeo told reporters in Seoul before leaving for Beijing on a whirlwind diplomatic trip.

Pompeo, however, did not comment on possible corresponding measures to be taken by Washington.

Denuclearisation of North Korea is “a long process”, Pompeo said, adding: “We made significant progress.”

The top US diplomat also said the two countries were “pretty close” to setting a date and location for the second summit between Kim and Trump.

‘A good meeting’

The visit was Pompeo’s fourth to North Korea.

Trump met Kim in Singapore in June for the first-ever summit between the two countries, resulting in what critics say was only a vague commitment by the North Korean leader towards denuclearisation.

Kim “expressed his gratitude to President Trump for making a sincere effort” to implement the Singapore agreement, according to a report on the Pompeo visit by North Korea’s state news agency KCNA.

“Kim Jong Un appreciated the positively developing situation on the Korean peninsula… (and) explained in detail the proposals for solving the denuclearization issue,” KCNA said.

The North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried the meeting on its front page, with eight photos of the two men shaking hands and smiling broadly.

Pompeo and Kim had “a good meeting”, Trump tweeted, adding: “I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future.”

Washington and Pyongyang have sparred over the exact terms of the vaguely-worded agreement in Singapore, with the US pushing to maintain sanctions and pressure against the North until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation”.

Last month, the North’s foreign minister told the United Nations there was “no way” his country would disarm first as long as tough US sanctions remain against his country.

After a previous visit to Pyongyang in July, Pompeo had said the two foes made progress on key issues — but within hours of his departure, the North condemned “gangster-like” demands from the US, raising questions over how much the two sides really saw eye to eye.

Diplomatic strides

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that he believed Kim would soon meet with the leaders of China and Russia “soon” as a “new order is being created on the Korean peninsula”.

As Pyongyang continues to take big diplomatic strides, analysts say the US may soon be pushed into a corner to relax sanctions.

“North Korea is bolstering its ties with China and Russia so although the US is maintaining the sanctions regime, it’s on thin ice,” said Hong Hyun-ik, an analyst at the Sejong Institute.

“President Trump is very close to losing control,” he said.

China and Russia — North Korea’s traditional allies — called for relaxed sanctions against Pyongyang at the UN Security Council last month, saying “steps … toward gradual disarmament should be followed by an easing of sanctions.”

AFP

Pompeo Calls Turkish FM Over Jailed US Pastor

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during press conference in Amman. STRINGER / AFP

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke on the telephone Thursday about an escalating row over detained pastor Andrew Brunson, a top Turkish official said.

“Our minister spoke with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” the official said on condition of anonymity after President Donald Trump demanded Brunson’s release and warned Washington was ready to impose “large sanctions”.

AFP