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N Korea at crossroads

Pompeo to visit North Korea in October

Trump claims no deadline for achieving denuclearization

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, meets with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, in New York on Sept. 26. (State Department photo)

NEW YORK -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accepted an invitation to visit Pyongyang next month, after meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho here Wednesday.

Pompeo's trip, announced by the State Department, will be used to prepare for an upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as to "make further progress on the implementation of the commitments from the U.S.-DPRK Singapore summit" held in June. The State Department used an acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The secretary met with Ri on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where the North Korean minister is expected to deliver an address on Saturday. Pompeo called Wednesday's meeting "very positive."

"Much work remains, but we will continue to move forward," he said.

Later Wednesday, the U.S. president backed away from a statement Pompeo issued last week suggesting that denuclearization would be completed by the end of Trump's first term in early 2021.

"I don't want to get into the time game," Trump said at a rare news conference in New York. "I told Mike Pompeo -- I said, 'Mike, don't get into the time game.'"

"We're really onto the cusp," the president said, adding, "I think we're going to do something that's going to be very important. But we're not playing the time game. It doesn't matter if it takes two years, three years or five months, doesn't matter. There's no nuclear testing, and there's no testing of rockets."

On Wednesday morning, Trump presided over a meeting of the U.N. Security Council covering nonproliferation and took the chair to express optimism on progress toward North Korean denuclearization.

"I believe that Chairman Kim Jong Un, a man that I have gotten to know and like, wants peace and prosperity for North Korea," Trump said. "Many things are happening behind the scenes away from the media, which nobody knows. But they are happening nevertheless, and they are happening in a very positive way."

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