SINGAPORE -- The U.S. hopes to see North Korea make strides toward denuclearization by the time President Donald Trump's term ends in January 2021, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
America's chief diplomat spoke to reporters in Seoul, where he will brief officials on the outcome of Trump's summit the day before with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Kim agreed there to pursue the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." But the leaders' joint statement did not set a timeline.
Asked whether he hoped to realize "major nuclear disarmament" during Trump's term, Pompeo said Washington is "hopeful that we can achieve that" in the next two and a half years, "absolutely."
Not all the work leading up to the Trump-Kim meeting was captured in the joint statement, said Pompeo, who mentioned "lots of other places where there were understandings reached" that cannot yet be put into writing.
"I am ... confident they understand that there will be in-depth verification," he said.
Pompeo will work to clarify the details of denuclearization in follow-up talks with senior North Korean officials. Though the exact timing of these meetings is not yet clear, he said: "I would anticipate it will be fairly quickly after we return to our home countries. ... I'm very confident that by sometime in the next week or so we will begin the engagement."
Trump told reporters after the summit that joint military exercises with South Korea will be halted while negotiations with the North are ongoing. If the talks break down, Trump is prepared to resume the drills, Pompeo said.