Pompeo to head to Pyongyang for weekend talks with North Korean leader

US Secretary of State Pompeo to meet North Korea's Kim Jong-un

"But the USA is coming up with a thorny stick of maintaining or intensifying sanctions. But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust", he said.

This AFP photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking to the U.N. Security Council in NY on September 27, 2018.

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea, underlined the point in an editorial Sunday.

"We will make this trip a chance to create a firm basis for cooperation peace between the North and South", South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told reporters before departure, according to Yonhap News.

Kim has expressed a desire to denuclearize before the end of Trump's term in early 2021.

The United States has insisted on maintaining tight UN sanctions against North Korea during the diplomatic drive, while Beijing has said it is time to start easing sanctions.

Experts say Pyongyang is not ready to offer a comprehensive list of its nuclear facilities, believing this would either be disbelieved or give the United States a list of future military targets.

"The United States is highly unlikely to get on board, especially the Senate, unless there's concrete steps towards denuclearization", she said.

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"I think the last time things broke down precisely as we were working out a detailed protocol on verification after we had gotten the list", she said.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who handles nuclear weapons issues and negotiations with the United States, arrived in Beijing on Thursday on a two-country trip that will also take her to Russian Federation.

At Wednesday's briefing, Pompeo said the statements were "entirely consistent with each other". Pyongyang, they argued, had done nothing to indicate that it was committed to "complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization". "There's no nuclear testing and there's not testing of rockets".

The question is how long that dialogue process can be sustained, and how it ends - with a nuclear-free North Korea at peace with its neighbors, with detente and containment of a de facto nuclear-armed state, or with a return to open hostility.

But Pompeo did not meet Kim on his last visit in July, when the North Korean leader instead was photographed touring a potato farm.

Trump has nevertheless appeared keen on a second summit with Kim, even though recent North Korean statements have suggested the two sides are far from narrowing their differences.

US negotiators have tried to get North Korea to provide a list of nuclear facilities and weapons they want dismantled but it failed to secure an agreement even after Trump's meeting with Kim and three trips to North Korea by Pompeo.

On Saturday, Mr Trump lavished praise on Mr Kim - considered by human rights groups to be one of the world's most repressive leaders - and said they had fallen "in love" after an exchange of letters.

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