U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo has offered economic help to impoverished North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons, as the two countries prepare for an historic summit between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Holding a U.S. -North Korea summit on the Korean Peninsula would give the impression that the United States has made concessions and given the initiative to North Korea.
Pompeo spoke in Washington a day after returning from Pyongyang, where he said he had "good" and "substantive" conversations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and secured the release of three American prisoners being held in North Korea.
On Thursday, Trump revealed that the first-ever between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader will take place in Singapore on June 12.
The U.S. leader also thanked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the role they played in bringing about the summit. The tweet came hours after Mr. Trump led a dramatic overnight welcome ceremony for the three Americans released by North Korea - Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song, and Tony Kim.
He said its policy was now "to concentrate all efforts into economic progress", but stressed that this had nothing to do with worldwide sanctions imposed on the country.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday reported that North Korean leader Kim "warmly greeted" Pompeo on Wednesday and "sincerely congratulated him on his recent official assumption as secretary of state". Estimates suggest the value of North Korea's basic minerals - coal, copper, etc. - ranges from $6 to $10 trillion total, not counting the rare earth metals.
The language was a marked shift from just eight months ago, when the leaders of the two countries traded a series of pointed threats and insults.
South Korea government said it had high hopes for the summit.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang twice to meet with Kim in recent months, in a precursor to the Trump-Kim meeting.
Travelling there allows Trump to avoid the DMZ, which might have appeared like home turf for Kim, while a Beijing meeting could have allowed China to exert control.More news: The 17 richest young millionaire athletes in Britain
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South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, left, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrive for press conference at the State Department, May 11, 2018, in Washington.
That means Trump's stewardship of the nuclear crisis is now far more popular than the President himself, the network said.
But for Mr Trump and Kim, Singapore is a convenient venue precisely because it "doesn't have the historical or political baggage", said Sarah Teo, an associate research fellow at RSIS's regional security architecture programme.
KELEMEN: And Kang also says that North Korea shouldn't expect any sanctions relief until it takes visible steps to denuclearize.
"They don't like being on the sideline for anything close to them, and nothing is closer to them than North Korea".
"The next few weeks will be critical, requiring airtight coordination between our two countries", Kang said.
According to South Korean government figures, North Korea abducted at least 3,835 South Koreans after the 1950-53 Korean War, mostly from the 1950s to the 1970s when Seoul says the North systematically kidnapped South Koreans and other foreigners to train them for propaganda and spying. Their plane taxied to the meeting area, where a giant US flag was suspended over the tarmac.
"I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful", Trump said.
"This administration has been significantly and sufficiently tough on North Korea".