NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the United States has not been able to arrange working-level meetings with North Korea in September, but Washington is ready to meet and believes it is important to do so.
Negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have stalled since a failed second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February.
“We have see these public statements that we were hopeful that there would be working level meetings by the end of this month ... we’ve not been able to make those happen and we don’t have a date yet when we will be able to get together,” Pompeo said at a news conference in New York, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly this week.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is not attending the annual gathering of world leaders, having done so for the past three years.
“Our team is prepared to meet with them, I think it’s important that we do,” Pompeo said.
There were opportunities to advance the objectives set out in first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in June 2018, he said.
“We hope the phone rings and that we get that call and we get that chance to find a place and a time that work for the North Koreans and that we can deliver on the commitments that Charman Kim and President Trump made.”
North Korea said this month it was willing to restart nuclear talks with the United States in late September but warned that dealings between the sides could end unless Washington adopted a fresh approach.
The talks have yet to resume despite Trump’s decision to fire his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, who upset North Korea by demanding that it should unilaterally hand over all of its nuclear weapons.
The concessions the United States has so far offered North Korea publicly have fallen far short of its expectations. In particular, Washington has given no indication of any willingness to accede to Pyongyang’s main demand for an easing of punishing sanctions.
Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool