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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his “regret” from the Trump administration was not convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program.
“I regret that we didn’t make more progress,” Pompeo told “Ruthless” podcast in an interview released Thursday.
“We convinced him not to do more nuclear testing and more long-range missile testing, but we weren’t able to get him to give up his nuclear program,” he said.
Convincing North Korea to denuclearize is a goal that has evaded presidents for years.
Pompeo reflected on his 2018 trip to the rogue nation as CIA director. He said he’d been trying to tamp down tensions after Trump had threatened “fire and fury” if North Korea continued its nuclear threats.
“We were trying to take the tension level down and create a situation where we could have a rational discussion,” Pompeo said.
“The president was prepared to consider whether a summit might be appropriate. It was really quite the, quite the experience.”
Photos showed Pompeo shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a striking break from U.S. foreign policy that didn’t negotiate with the embattled leader known for human rights abuses.
Trump went on to meet with Kim three times, but North Korea never agreed to denuclearize. Pompeo made another trip to the country to retrieve three Americans who had been imprisoned on espionage charges.
The Biden administration has tried unsuccessfully to restart talks with North Korea, after over a year without active dialogue. In recent weeks, the nation has begun testing short-range missiles again.
Washington and Pyongyang have traded barbs over the start of missile tests.
NORTH KOREA FIRES TWO SHORT-RANGE BALLISTIC MISSILES INTO SEA OF JAPAN, US OFFICIAL CONFIRMS
President Biden was restrained as he admonished North Korea for the launches, which were a violation of U.N. sanctions against the North.
“We’re consulting with our allies and partners,” Biden said at the first news conference of his presidency on Thursday. “And there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly. But I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.”
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Senior official Ri Pyong Chol said Biden’s comments were “openly revealing his deep-seated hostility toward the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].”
Ri said it was “gangster-like logic” for the United States to criticize the North’s tactical weapons tests when the Americans are freely testing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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