Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha hold a joint press conference following a trilateral debriefing of ongoing negotiations with the U.S. and North Korea.
Transcript] FOREIGN MINISTER KONO: Thank you. It is my glad pleasure to welcome Secretary Mike Pompeo and Minister Kang Kyung-wha to Tokyo for this trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting. The last time we gathered in Seoul was less than a month ago, immediately after U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore. The timing and the frequency of the meeting have enabled smooth and effective trilateral coordination; its outcome could then be fed into the process between the U.S. and North Korea.[
The responsibility Secretary Pompeo assumed after the summit in Singapore is very significant, and Minister Kang and I stand hand-in-hand with Secretary Pompeo to support him all the way till the end.
I would also like to pay tribute to the earnest effort by Minister Kang to serve as a bridge between U.S. and North Korea. Her effort has paved the way for the subsequent summit in Singapore.
Today, we were able to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to continue strengthening of our trilateral cooperation towards the common goal of North Korea’s complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges.
We have also had in-depth discussion on how we can cooperate to urge North Korea to take concrete actions towards the full implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and we confirmed that security assurance will be provided to North Korea, as agreed in the summit in Singapore.
At the same time, we have reaffirmed that international community will continue to fully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions in order to materialize CVID. Japan continues to seek normalize its relations with North Korea in accordance with Pyongyang Declaration through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as nuclear missile and abductions issue, as well as through the settlement of the unfortunate past.
We wish to initiate a new start for our relations with North Korea. Japan is determined to continue playing a major role in realizing peace and stability in Northeast Asia in close coordination with United States and ROK. In this regard, I am very much looking forward to continue working closely with both Secretary Pompeo and Minister Kang in coming month.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Now let us invite Secretary Mike Pompeo. Secretary, please.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here on my first trip to Tokyo as the Secretary of State for the United States of America, and I am thrilled to be here. Thank you, Foreign Minister Kono, for hosting me. Foreign Minister Kang, thank you so much for all the help you have provided me in the days since the Singapore summit.
Before I talk about North Korea, I want to say that we are closely following the news of the flooding and landslides that are hitting western Japan. The United States expresses its deep condolences to the families of those who died, and we send our thoughts and prayers to the families who are injured or missing. To our Japanese friends, the American people stand with you as you recover from this tragedy.
As we build on the momentum of President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un’s historic summit, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan continue to strengthen our trilateral cooperation to achieve the goals set out in Singapore. To that very end, today’s meeting was a top priority after my talks in North Korea these past days.
Over two days, my team and I met with Vice Minister Chairman Kim Jong-ul – chul – Kim Yong-chul and his colleagues. We had good-faith, productive conversations which will continue in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, sanctions remain in place, and we will continue to enforce them with great vigor.
During the visit, we intended to build upon the agreements made by President Trump and Chairman Kim, and we made progress. But first let me make clear North Korea reaffirmed its commitment to complete denuclearization. We had detailed and substantive discussions about the next steps towards a fully verified and complete denuclearization.
In addition, North Korea agreed to meet in mid-July in Panmunjom to discuss the repatriation of remains of our American service members. North Korea also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to destroy its missile engine test site, which will make the region and the world safer. We also established a working-level team that will carry out the day-to-day work of our two sides.
Yep, the road ahead will be difficult and challenging, and we know critics will try to minimize the work that we’ve achieved. But our allies, like the Republic of Korea and Japan, President Trump and I believe that peace is worth the effort. And that’s something that we all want. As allies we share and are committed to the same goal – the fully verified, final denuclearization of North Korea, as agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong-un.
As President Trump has said, there is no limit to what North Korea can achieve if it gives up its nuclear weapons. Should the DPRK follow through on its commitments, we look forward to eventually helping North Korea obtain prosperity and earn the respect of the world; however, North Korea will first have to fulfill its commitments to denuclearize. Sanctions will remain in place until final, fully verified denuclearization, as agreed to by Chairman Kim, occurs. Multiple UN Security Council resolutions unanimously passed require all nations to fully enforce those sanctions. Our three countries will continue to be vocal in reminding each country of its obligations to do so.
And so while we are encouraged by the progress of these talks, progress alone does not justify the relaxation of the existing sanctions regime. There is also no change to our ironclad commitment to the defense of our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan. The security of our allies is integral to our American security. The United States looks forward to continuing our close coordination with Japan and South Korea as we achieve the successful implementation of the agreement that was achieved at the Singapore summit.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Lastly, let us invite Minister Kang Kyung-wha. Minister, please.
FOREIGN MINISTER KANG: Thank you very much. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the press. It is indeed a distinct honor for me to be here with Secretary of State Mr. Mike Pompeo and my Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Taro Kono, here in Tokyo so soon after Secretary Pompeo’s third visit to Pyongyang.
But first of all, let me also reiterate the sentiment expressed by Secretary Pompeo about the terrible losses caused by the torrential rain and flooding in western Japan. Our thoughts are very much with the families and communities affected by this climactic event, and we wish them, the government, swift recovery and our greatest sympathies to the families affected.
Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang, his third one, this visit having taken place in follow-up to the historic U.S.-North Korea summit, has been a productive starting point for implementing the agreements reached between President Trump and Chairman Kim in Singapore. Today’s meeting among the three of us underscores the unwavering commitment on the part of our three countries to achieve the shared goal of complete denuclearization and the establishment of lasting peace and – on the Korean Peninsula.
First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and admiration to Secretary Pompeo for his tireless efforts to advance the dialogue with North Korea with a great deal of patient and deep commitment to turning this historic opportunity into reality of a nuclear-free, peaceful Korean Peninsula.
At today’s meeting, Secretary Pompeo explained to us in detail the results of his visit to North Korea and gave us a good sense of the work going forward, including the meeting scheduled at Panmunjom on July 12th regarding the return of the POW/MIA remains, but for further consultations to be had with North Korea going forward.
In the two rounds of the inter-Korean summits and last month’s U.S.-North Korea summit, the three leaders clearly set the direction towards our shared goal, and Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang this time has taken the first steps in that direction. And we expect there to be – these to be followed up by further constructive and productive negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, and the Republic of Korea stands ready to provide whatever assistance is needed to move the dialogue along.
The Security Council sanctions, as we have agreed in our trilateral meeting, will remain in place and faithfully implemented until we are assured of complete denuclearization by North Korea. North Korea’s denuclearization and provision of security guarantees and economic development that it desires must move together in our joint efforts to chart a brighter future towards lasting peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and indeed beyond in this region.
This was the blueprint set forth in President Moon’s speech in Berlin a year ago, as well as the vision that President Trump and Chairman Kim agreed to in Singapore. And therefore, it is thus in the interest of all that we move forward expeditiously in this endeavor.
We have also confirmed once again that the ROK-U.S. alliance is firm and strong and will remain so during this process of North Korea’s denuclearization. We have made it clear that decisions to suspend certain parts of the ROK-U.S. joint military exercises, including the UFG, has been taken jointly with the aim of encouraging North Korea to actively and expeditiously engage in the denuclearization process, and that our combined defense posture will remain ironclad. Our two countries will continue to maintain watertight coordination in any and all issues related to the ROK-U.S. alliance.
In closing, may I once thank again my counterparts, Minister Kono and Secretary Pompeo, for the show of solidarity that our three countries have maintained as we have and will continue to engage on the issue of North Korea’s complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Now we would like to move on to the Q&A session. Those who wish to make – ask a question, please raise your hand. Upon my appointing, please move to the nearest microphone and identify yourself with your name and media outlet.
Please kindly be advised to make your questions succinct. Now the floor is open. The lady in the front seat.
QUESTION: Thank you. This is Ryo Kiyomiya from Asahi Shimbun, Japanese newspaper company. I have two questions. First, I would like to ask each of you, recently the U.S. defines its goal as final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea instead of CVID – complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. It seems softer than CVID. My question is: Will the U.S., Japan, and South Korea continue to work towards CVID of North Korea? And what do you think is the difference between CVID and final, fully verified denuclearization?
And my second question is about the abduction issue of the Japanese. Secretary Pompeo, you said you raised the abduction issue of the Japanese during your visit to North Korea. We would like to know the detail and response from North Korea. Secretary and Minister Kang, how will the U.S. and South Korea work with Japan on this abduction issue?
(Via interpreter) And my question is to Minister Kono regarding the Japanese policy on countering or reacting to these issues. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER KONO: (Via interpreter) First, I would like to respond to your question. With respect to related resolutions of the Security Council, it clearly stipulates that North Korea must dismantle in a method – complete and verifiable, irreversible method dismantle the WMD as well as the ballistic missiles. So it is clearly stipulated that CVID is demanded in the resolutions.
As far as we are concerned, we would like to continue to work toward North Korea so that North Korea would completely implement the Security Council’s resolution. We are completely in agreement on that.
In terms of the international community, we are in agreement. For me, see, instead of CVID denuclearization of Korean Peninsula, sometimes I refer to this phrase. But even in doing so, what I mean is to look toward the dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, at least as Security Council stipulates certain goals. And that should be solidly implemented by North Korea, and we have to demand North Korea to do that. We have – we are unchanged in that goal. So the words may be different and there is no much – not much significance in the different phrases and words that we may use.
Now on the question of abduction, from Secretary Pompeo this time around the issue was raised, and I’d like to thank him for raising the issue at the meeting. Regarding the reaction from North Korea, I will refrain from making any comment.
As far as Japan is concerned, the U.S. and North Korean negotiations should advance furthermore, and we’d like to work in tandem with the international community so that Security Council resolution-based sanction can be solidly implemented regarding North Korea.
FOREIGN MINISTER KANG: Yes. Should I go?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sure. Go ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER KANG: Well, I think our goal remains complete denuclearization, and I think the FFVD, as used by Secretary Pompeo, isn’t any softer in stating our shared goal of complete denuclearization. Obviously, terms have historical context, and this has been somewhat difficult for North Korea to signed onto in written form, but we are assured that Mr. Pompeo’s engagement with the North Koreans have been very, very clear on what complete denuclearization means and how to get from here to complete denuclearization, which means the complete dismantlement of the weapons, the materials, the facilities, the plans. This is a very clearly-set goal for North Korea, and we expect them to deliver on this commitment to complete denuclearization.
On the abduction issue, yes, my president has also raised this in two rounds of discussions with Chairman Kim, and we urge them to engage in bilateral discussions with Japan on this issue. After all, it’s a bilateral issue. We also have a couple of our nationals detained in North Korea, so it’s an issue that concerns us as well.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think my two colleagues answered your first question very clearly. There is no difference. But most importantly is what the North Koreans understand. We had lengthy discussions about the scope of what complete denuclearization means over the past two days. They acknowledge that this is broad; this is, as my two colleagues have said, from weapons systems to fissile material to the production facilities, enrichment facilities, across the range of weapons and missiles. It’s a broad definition of denuclearization. The North Koreans understand that and have not challenged that.
Second, they also understand that denuclearization makes no sense absent verification, and they acknowledge that as well. There will be a verification connected to the complete denuclearization. It’s what President Trump and Chairman Kim both agreed to. And so folks can try and parse words should they choose to do so. What’s most important is what the North Koreans understand and the demands that the world is making of North Korea, and there can be – it’s unmistakable, the scope of what denuclearization means to the North Koreans. I’ve been very clear with them.
Second, I did raise the issue of the abduction of Japanese. I’ve done it at each conversation I’ve had with my North Korean counterparts, whether it was on my first two trips with Chairman Kim or on this trip with Kim Yong-chul. I’ve raised it repeatedly. I won’t go into any of the details about particular parts of that element of our discussion. Know that it is important to the United States; it’s part of our discussions each and every time we interact with our North Korean counterparts.
MODERATOR: Second question. Gentleman in front of the microphone, please.
QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Secretary. Thank you very much for hosting this. I’m David Clark from Agence France-Presse, AFP. Following your talks yesterday, Mr. Secretary, the North Koreans issued a statement in which they described your demands as gangster-like and insisted that there be a series of political and economic concessions hand-in-hand with the progress towards denuclearization. You have said that maximum pressure will continue until this denuclearization, as you define it, is complete.
Is there any scope for concessions en route, or will they simply have to accept denuclearization before you can move towards sanctions relief and political settlement of the Korean War and so forth, the other demands that they have? Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So —
QUESTION: Oh, and given what they’ve said, how can you continue to say that you believe they are negotiating in good faith?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Because they were. And they did. It’s pretty simple. So look, people are going to make certain comments after meetings. If I paid attention to what the press said, I’d go nuts, and I refuse to do that. I am determined to achieve the commitment that President Trump made, and I am counting on Chairman Kim to be determined to follow through on the commitment that he made. And so if those requests were gangster-like, they are – the world is a gangster, because there was a unanimous decision at the UN Security Council about what needs to be achieved.
The second point, as we move forward, we have been very clear there were three parts of the agreement in the Singapore summit. There were the establishment of peaceful relations between the countries, increased security assurances to North Korea and its people, and finally, denuclearization. Each of those needs to be conducted in parallel. We need to work on those efforts simultaneously. And so it is absolutely the case that there are places where there will be things that take place along the way that help achieve the security assurances that the North Koreans need and improvement in the peaceful relations between our two countries during the time that denuclearization is taking place.
But the economic sanctions are a different kettle of fish altogether. The economic sanctions and the continued enforcement – so the world will see continued enforcement actions by the United States in the days and weeks ahead, and I’m counting on those other countries that are with me here today and others around the world to continue to enforce these sanctions as well. The enforcement of those sanctions will continue until denuclearization is complete.
MODERATOR: Due to the time constraint, I would like to make the next question the last one. Madam, please.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Hello, I am Yoon Seol-Young from JoongAng Daily, JTBC. Secretary Pompeo, you mentioned how you saw many progress in almost all central issues, however North Korea stated that the United States had unilateral position and it expressed regrets for that. Secretary Pompeo, you highlighted FFVD, so I would like to know what reaction North Korea showed to this.
And we believe that there were also other discussions. So regarding declaration of North Korea’s nuclear missile facilities and stockpiles and also timeline to denuclearization, how much achievement have you achieved?
And finally, you did not meet Chairman Kim Jong-un this time around. Is there any particular reason for that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: With respect to progress, you again referred to the statements after the event. I was there for the event. I know actually what precisely took place. When we spoke to them about the scope of denuclearization, they did not push back. It wasn’t my language; it was the language of Chairman Kim. He committed to complete denuclearization.
The commitment that Chairman Kim made is important and powerful, and I am convinced that he understands the commitment he made, and I am hopeful that we will find a path forward to achieve that commitment that Chairman Kim himself made personally to President Trump and then to world in the signed agreement between our two leaders.
With respect to timeline, we talked about timeline a great deal during our conversations. There’s still much work to do to establish what the precise timeline for the various events will be, and we talked about it in the context of the continued commitment of North Korea to destroy their missile engine test site, a commitment that they reaffirmed yesterday and told us that it would happen at a time that was important. And we told them important would be soon, and I am hopeful that that will take place soon. It will be an important event along the step towards denuclearization. It will be a good step towards fulfilling their goal.
And then your final question was about the fact that I did not meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un on this trip. It was never anticipated that I would meet with him. We went there to work with Kim Yong-chul and our two teams to work together over the course of two days. We did just that.
MODERATOR: This concludes the joint press conference. Thank you very much.