Pompeo heads to Pyongyang, seeking progress on Trump-Kim summit

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo leaves Tokyo for Pyongyang for further denuclearization talks. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 October 2018
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Pompeo heads to Pyongyang, seeking progress on Trump-Kim summit

  • After visiting Tokyo, US State Secretary Pompeo heads to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un for possible historic US-North Korea deal
  • Pompeo said his aim was to “develop sufficient trust” between Washington and Pyongyang to inch toward peace

SEOUL: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to Pyongyang Sunday for new talks with Kim Jong Un on denuclearization and a second US-North Korean summit.
Pompeo departed from Tokyo, where he spent the first leg of a tour that will include stops in Pyongyang, South Korea and China.
“Next stop Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim and continue our work to fulfil the commitments made (by) POTUS and Chairman Kim,” Pompeo tweeted, using an acronym to refer to US President Donald Trump.
The trip will be Pompeo’s fourth to Pyongyang, as the contours of a possibly historic US-North Korea deal take shape.
On the flight to Tokyo, Pompeo said his aim was to “develop sufficient trust” between Washington and Pyongyang to inch toward peace.
“Then we are also going to set up the next summit,” said Pompeo.
However, he played down expectations for a breakthrough.
“I doubt we will get it nailed but begin to develop options for both location and timing for when Chairman Kim will meet with the president again. Maybe we will get further than that,” said the top US diplomat.
In June, Trump met Kim in Singapore for the first-ever summit between the countries.
No sitting US president has ever visited North Korea, which according to human rights groups remains one of the most repressive countries on Earth.
Since the Singapore summit, which yielded what critics charge was only a vague commitment by Kim toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the road toward warmer ties has been bumpy.
Trump scrapped a previously planned trip by his top diplomat to Pyongyang after what he said was insufficient progress toward implementing the terms of the Singapore declaration.
But the unorthodox US president has since declared himself “in love” with Kim.
While the US has pushed to maintain pressure on the North until its “final, fully verifiable denuclearization,” analysts say Washington may consider new options as China, Russia and South Korea seek to relax sanctions.
“North Korea took some steps toward denuclearization and the US will face criticism from the international community if it continues to demand complete denuclearization without any lifting of sanctions,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
“We can’t rule out the possibility that Washington... may move in the direction of partial easing of sanctions based on progress in denuclearization,” he said.
Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pompeo said the two historic allies would have a “fully coordinated, unified view of how to proceed, which will be what is needed if we are going to be successful on denuclearising North Korea.”
Japan, which has seen North Korean missiles fly over its territory and been threatened with annihilation, has historically taken a hard line on Pyongyang and stressed the need to maintain pressure on the regime.
More recently, however, Abe has said the only way to improve strained ties is a face-to-face meeting with former international pariah Kim.
After Pyongyang, Pompeo travels to South Korea, whose dovish president Moon Jae-in has served as a go-between for the two sides.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has given a hint of what a grand bargain between the two countries could look like.
In an interview with the Washington Post, she said the North could agree to dismantle Yongbyon, its signature nuclear site.
In exchange, the United States would declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War — which concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty — but North Korea would stop short of delivering an exhaustive list of its nuclear facilities, she said.
Pompeo, who has repeatedly declined to be drawn publicly on the shape of an eventual agreement, did not discuss the possible outlines of a deal, saying only that his “mission is to make sure that we understand what each side is truly trying to achieve.”
After Seoul, Pompeo ends his trip Monday in China, North Korea’s political and economic lifeline.
The Beijing stop could be tense as it comes days after Vice President Mike Pence delivered a blistering speech accusing China of military aggression, commercial theft, rising human rights violations and electoral intervention against Trump.


Duterte asks why critical ex-police officer ‘is still alive’

In this Oct. 9, 2018, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses congressmen and Government officials during the presentation of Republic Act bills in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 23 min 48 sec ago
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Duterte asks why critical ex-police officer ‘is still alive’

  • More than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in what police say were gunbattles that ensued during drug raids under Duterte’s crackdown, alarming Western governments and human rights groups

MANILA, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused a dismissed police colonel, who had publicly criticized him and his deadly anti-drug campaign, of criminal involvement and said he wanted to know why the former officer “is still alive.”
In a late-night televised speech, Duterte condemned dismissed Senior Superintendent Eduardo Acierto, who told reporters over the weekend that the president had been repeatedly photographed with two Chinese men involved in drug trafficking.
Duterte defended one of the two Chinese men, saying he had accompanied China’s premier on a visit to the Philippines and was a businessman who traveled to the country in 1999 to sell Chinese-made cellphones.
Acierto, a veteran anti-narcotics officer before his dismissal by an anti-graft agency last year, said he submitted a report to top police officials and Duterte’s office about the two Chinese to warn the president of their background. But he said he was never informed if the two were ever investigated.
“In my investigation, I discovered that our president ... is often accompanied by two people deeply involved in illegal drugs,” Acierto told a news conference late Sunday in Manila, adding that he was later accused by authorities in a criminal complaint of involvement in drug smuggling instead of the Chinese men.
Duterte said Acierto was the only police official who has made the allegations against the two men. He said Acierto was an “idiot” allegedly involved in corruption, drug smuggling, kidnappings of Chinese nationals and the killing of a South Korean man.
“Don’t ever believe specially this Acierto,” Duterte said in a speech in southern Koronadal city. “What if I ask the military and the police, ‘Why is this son of a bitch still alive?“
Acierto denied any wrongdoing.
The president mentioned Acierto while talking about his efforts to combat corruption, including corrupt policemen. He also criticized and ridiculed opposition senatorial candidates running in mid-term elections in May.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino told The Associated Press on Monday that he received Acierto’s report and sent it to Duterte’s office, adding that both his office and that of the president took steps to validate the allegations against the two Chinese. He said the two were not on any list of drug suspects.
Aquino played down the photographs showing Duterte with the two Chinese men, saying officials often get approached by all sorts of people for group photographs without being able to rapidly check their background. He questioned the credibility of Acierto, who he accused of being linked to drug smuggling.
Profiles of the two Chinese provided by Acierto to reporters said they were involved in the “manufacturing, financing, the importation, transhipment and local distribution of meth or shabu,” referring to the local name for methamphetamine, a stimulant.
Acierto said he initially welcomed Duterte’s passion to combat illegal drugs. But he said he later realized that the president’s deadly crackdown took a wrong approach by targeting mostly poor drug suspects instead of going after powerful drug lords and traffickers.
More than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in what police say were gunbattles that ensued during drug raids under Duterte’s crackdown, alarming Western governments and human rights groups.