U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that there is no compromise on the goal of the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
In an interview with NBC, Pompeo said complete denuclearization remains the objective as the two countries head into a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, next week.
"That's what we need to get for the American people," the top U.S. diplomat said. "To keep the American people safe, we have to reduce the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea, and then in turn we can work on peace and security on the peninsula and a brighter future for the North Korean people."
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are set to hold a second summit on Feb. 27 and 28 following their historic first summit in Singapore in June.
The two sides are expected to flesh out the agreement reached in Singapore to pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.
Trump has recently emphasized that he is in no rush to denuclearize the North as long as the regime refrains from testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, raising speculation that he is lowering expectations for the upcoming summit or backing away from the goal of complete denuclearization.
Pompeo refused to say what the U.S. might offer as concessions.
"Remember the objective -- that's the one that you laid out -- is the complete, verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula and a brighter future for the North Korean people," he said. "I don't want to get into the negotiations, what we might give up, what they might give up, but the American people should know we have the toughest economic sanctions that have ever been placed on North Korea, and we won't release that pressure until such time as we're confident that we've substantially reduced that risk."
In a separate interview with Fox Business Network, Pompeo said he hopes to see North Korea's denuclearization materialize in the same unexpected way the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
"No one anticipated that the wall would come down on the day that it came down," he said, referencing his time as a young soldier patrolling the East German border.
"I am hopeful that the world gets a day like that here as well, where no one expects that North Korea will take this action.
"I think the work that we've done, the economic sanctions that have been in place, the negotiations that President Trump has led -- I hope one day we all wake up and we get a moment just like the one that the world had in 1989," he said.
Shin Jin-seon email@example.com