In a trilateral news conference in Tokyo, accompanied by officials from Japan and South Korea, Pompeo reaffirmed the US goal of complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, reiterating that his talks with North Korea last week were conducted in "good faith".
After a lot of very encouraging diplomatic meetings, this is the first one met with any sign of serious stumbling blocks.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday brushed aside North Korea's accusation of "gangster-like" denuclearization demands. Isaac Stone Fish, a senior fellow at the Asia Society, joins CBSN with more.
He also acknowledged that the road ahead would be hard, but said that North Korea did reaffirm its commitment to denuclearize.
And he said some progress had been made towards agreeing "the modalities" of North Korea's destruction of a missile facility. It was the first time he had visited North Korea since the Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit.
The North statement contradicted the version of events given by Pompeo just hours before.
Trump's suggestion that China was behind North Korea's tougher stance on denuclearisation talks echoes a comment by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday.
US Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo did not meet Kim, as he had done on his two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.
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Pompeo downplayed a harshly critical North Korean statement after the talks in which the country's foreign ministry bashed hopes for a quick deal and attacked the U.S. for making unreasonable and extortionate demands aimed at forcing it to abandon nuclear weapons.
But on another, North Korea may be betting that Trump, the real estate developer-turned-president, will be more willing than his negotiators to ease off his administration's hard-line positions to make a deal.
Pompeo acknowledged at a news conference in Tokyo on Sunday that a peace treaty, security assurances for North Korea and denuclearization should be pursued in parallel, but it's the last item that has been the clear focus of United States efforts and its overriding goal: The elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons in a way that can be verified by outside experts.
'At this point, even to get the North Koreans to follow through with the return of Korean War-era MIA remains, would feel like a big win for Pompeo, even though it wouldn't affect the nuclear threat'.
Some U.S. experts said the disputes highlight the risk of Trump granting premature concessions to North Korea.
"There's no doubt in my mind that it's the Chinese pulling a North Koreans back", Graham said.
One mistake Richardson said the US made in its negotiations with Pyongyang was "going first" and announcing the termination of some military exercises with South Korea.
But he remained optimistic that the "two sides have made progress narrowing the gap on how the negotiations would proceed, how to measure progress, and how progress on one front can support progress on the others", he said in a post to 38north.org, a North Korea-focused website that's affiliated with Washington-based non-profit Henry L. Stimson Center.