By Agence France-Presse
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will urge Asian countries at an upcoming meeting in Singapore to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program, a US official said Tuesday.
Pompeo will be in Singapore Friday and Saturday, attending an annual meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
North Korea “is in the room as a member of the ASEAN regional forum among these 27 countries, so there will be discussions that are inclusive of North Korea,” a senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official did not rule out a one-on-one meeting between Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart on commitments made during the historic June 12 summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“With regard to potential encounters, pull aside, bilateral meetings, all of those are possible with members of the ASEAN regional forum,” the official said.
“There are chance encounters, there are sometimes planned encounters — but we’re not there yet for any announcement,” the official said.
In a joint declaration after the June 12 summit, the North Korean leader “reaffirmed his commitment” to work towards the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But the actual details of the process, including how and when the North’s nuclear program is to be dismantled, have yet to be worked out.
Pompeo, charged with nailing down the details of the Singapore commitment, traveled to Pyongyang in early July for what apparently was a fruitless visit.
The lack of progress has been a source of concern for many observers, especially as international sanctions are beginning to ease and news reports indicate that North Korea is continuing its nuclear and ballistic programs.
“We too remain concerned” by North Korean violations of UN-approved sanctions, the US official said. These include illegal shipments of oil by sea that, according to Washington, enables Pyongyang to bust its import quotas.
Gatherings like the ASEAN meeting are “an opportunity to remind all countries of their obligations in adherence” of UN Security Council resolutions, the official said.
At the United Nations, the United States asked a UN sanctions committee to halt all deliveries of refined oil products to North Korea after accusing Pyongyang of using illegal imports to exceed a cap on permissible deliveries.
A cut-off of oil and fuel would require enforcement primarily by China, which supplies most of North Korea’s energy needs, but also by Russia, which delivers some oil to Pyongyang.
Russia and China, which put a six-month hold on the US request, will be represented at the ASEAN meeting.