US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged North Korea to follow the example of Vietnam, saying President Donald Trump believed Pyongyang could replicate Hanoi’s path to normal relations with Washington and to prosperity.
Speaking to business leaders in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Sunday, the top US diplomat said he hoped Washington could one day share the same level of partnership with North Korea as it did with Vietnam, a long-time former enemy.
Pompeo said Trump believed North Korea could replicate the path taken by Vietnam, which has established close economic ties with the US following the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1995.
He claimed the key to Vietnam’s economic growth was engagement with the United States following the Vietnam War, when the two countries started working together in 1985 to repatriate remains of American troops lost in Vietnam.
As part of his talks with North Korea, Pompeo has been seeking the remains of US troops from the 1950-53 Korean War and officials from the two sides are due to meet next week to discuss details of this.
Pompeo said that in past two decades, US bilateral trade with Vietnam had grown 8,000 percent, and American companies had poured in billions of dollars of investments.
“The United States has been clear on what we seek from North Korea...,” Pompeo said. “The choice now lies with North Korea and its people.
His comments followed two days of chilly talks in Pyongyang aimed at persuading North Korean leader Kim Jong-un needed to give up nuclear weapons, which prompted North Korean accusations he had used “gangster-like” diplomacy.
Pompeo held more than eight hours of talks with North Korean officials on his third visit to Pyongyang on Friday.
The North released a statement hours after Pompeo left Pyongyang, saying the Trump administration was pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization.”
No details were available from the meetings, and it was not clear what the US had specifically demanded. Formerly, Washington had called for full denuclearization “at one stage,” but it seemed to have dropped that demand later on.
Pompeo also held talks in Tokyo earlier on Sunday with Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. During that meeting, he said sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization.
During a much-publicized summit in Singapore last month, Trump and Kim signed a brief, broadly-worded document, according to which both sides committed to working toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
However, North Korea has reportedly been advancing its nuclear program.
The US-based monitoring group 38 North said in an analysis late last month that infrastructure improvements at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center were “continuing at a rapid pace.”