Senior U.S. and North Korean officials huddled for last-minute negotiations Monday, trying to iron out differences ahead of a summit meeting between the two countries’ leaders, while America’s top diplomat said Washington’s position was “clear and unchanged.”
At the end of a day during which envoys from the two sides spent hours talking in a conference room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said talks were “moving quite rapidly” as President Donald Trump prepared to meet Kim Jong Un.
The two men are expected to meet publicly on Tuesday at 9 a.m., shake hands and go behind closed doors for a one-on-one meeting. The White House has set aside two hours for their meeting, but U.S. officials said there is no set time for the talks to finish.
That face-to-face encounter “will set the framework for the hard work that will follow,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We’ll see how far we get.”
Mr. Pompeo, who has led several rounds of talks with North Korea in recent months, said Washington wouldn’t agree to ease economic sanctions against Pyongyang unless “we get the outcome we are demanding”—complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and advances in its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles have emerged as among the gravest threats to international security.
After months of trading insults, North Korea and the Trump administration turned to diplomatic exchanges that have led to Tuesday’s planned summit, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.