Pompeo shrugs off North Korea's 'gangster' rebuke

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised on Sunday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's conduct at denuclearization talks with North Korean officials who accused America's top diplomat of making "gangster-like" demands.

Pompeo and other U.S. officials are meeting with North Korean officials in Pyongyang to hammer out details on dismantling North Korea's nuclear program.

North Korea on Saturday lashed out at what it called "rapacious" USA demands, just hours after the conclusion of what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had called "productive" talks.

"We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it's the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearisation of North Korea", Mr. Pompeo said.

Trump and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement at a June 12 summit pledging to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

"If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster", Pompeo said, noting that numerous UN Security Council resolutions have demanded that the North rid itself of nuclear weapons and end its ballistic missile programme. "If I paid attention to what the press said, I'd go nuts".

The statement, by an unnamed foreign ministry official, gave a starkly different account from one provided by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just hours before.

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The North pushed for a phased approach with a incremental dismantling of its nuclear program accompanied by the US gradually easing sanctions and providing other incentives.

Kim later said that "there are things that I have to clarify" to which Pompeo responded that "there are things that I have to clarify as well".

"We had anticipated the USA side would come with a constructive idea, thinking we would take something in return", said the statement.

The spokesman also expressed "deep worry over the result of the talks", saying that the talks have not only failed to be of any help in trust-building between the two sides, but also could result in the wavering of DPRK's will to work for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Abraham Denmark, a senior defense official for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, said: "This is a rejection of USA demands for unilateral denuclearisation by North Korea, and a clear message that the US will need to give up more to make progress".

North Korea called the outcome of the discussion "worrisome" and argued that the "cancerous issues" the United States delegation raised were the same ones that had "amplified" distrust and the risk of war with past administrations, resulting in previous talks ending in failure.

He reiterated President Donald Trump's pledge to boost North Korea's economy and provide it with security assurances in exchange for Kim giving up nuclear weapons.

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-North Korea summit in Singapore, Trump declared the North was no longer a threat and would hand over the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War.

Yesterday, Mr Pompeo appeared dismissive of these remarks, to the point of sounding slightly exasperated when questioned.

The official also mentioned that leader Kim Jong-un's letter for Trump was given to Pompeo, saying that he voiced confidence that the trust and friendship built through the Singapore meeting will deepen through talks that the two countries will have going forward.

But North Korea was careful not to criticize the USA president specifically, emphasizing that "we wholly maintain our trust toward President Trump".

As Pompeo left the North Korean capital Saturday, he told reporters that the trip had been "productive" and that progress had been made on a number of issues.

At the talks, Mr Pompeo did not meet with Mr Kim, but instead with Kim Yong-chol, who is seen as his right-hand man.

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