Basketball diplomacy: S. Korea teams arrive in Pyongyang

Basketball diplomacy: S. Korea teams arrive in Pyongyang

Basketball diplomacy: S. Korea teams arrive in Pyongyang

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should be prepared to welcome such steps, but not as a substitute for progress in achieving the complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament of North Korea's illicit programs.

During his trip, Pompeo will "continue consultations and implement the forward progress made by President Trump and Chairman Kim in Singapore", according to the State Department.

"If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!" he wrote.

He has stressed the singular importance of his personal relationship with Kim Jong-un, suggested that improving leader-level and state-to-state relations will reduce the threat from North Korea, and assured the American people that the nuclear problem has been "solved". In North Korea, "running it tough" means executing dissidents, torturing political prisoners in gulags and threatening to wipe a few USA cities off the map with a nuclear blast. Seoul has been criticized by USA lawmakers for failing to address North Korea's egregious human rights violations in cross-border talks.

Mr Trump's self-professed peace-keeping comes despite reports emerging Kim Jong-un is still developing nuclear weapons as promised, after increased production in nuclear material was discovered across several sites in North Korea.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, who has taken a hardline on the reclusive country, recently said in a media interview that the USA has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year. "And, you know, it very may well be that Kim thinks he can push President Trump around". She declined to confirm or deny recent media reports of intelligence assessments saying North Korea has been expanding its weapons capabilities.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters one week after the Singapore summit that while he had not seen any indications that North Korea had dismantled its nuclear program, he "wouldn't expect that at this point" because "detailed negotiations" had not begun.

Still, there are gestures both sides could make to build trust along the lines of the USA president's unilateral decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea planned for August.

"There will be specific asks and there will be a specific timeline when we do present the North Koreans with our concept of what implementation of the summit agreement looks like", the official said.

Experts say Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang would serve as a barometer for future negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

With hard and potentially long negotiations to come, Trump would benefit from a clearer strategy toward North Korea and indeed the peninsula as a whole. Trump administration officials have deflected criticism of the agreement, describing it as the first step in a negotiated process to persuade Kim to give up his arsenal.

National Security Advisor John Bolton said in an interview Sunday that he believes denuclearization is possible within one year if Pyongyang agrees to the process soon.

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