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Report: Talks underway at Panmunjom for Pompeo's North Korea trip

By Elizabeth Shim
Report: Talks underway at Panmunjom for Pompeo's North Korea trip
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea on July 6 and is expected to make another trip to Pyongyang in the near future. File Photo courtesy of Secretary Mike Pompeo/U.S. Department of State

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is unlikely to return to Washington empty-handed from his next trip to Pyongyang. U.S. and North Korean officials have been secretly conducting working-level talks at Panmunjom, multiple South Korean sources reported Thursday.

South Korean network JTBC reported the United States and North Korea have been laying the groundwork for Pompeo's next trip and that President Moon Jae-in had said the two sides were in contact when he met with ruling and opposition parties on Thursday.

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North Korean and U.S. negotiators were meeting at Panmunjom as recently as this past weekend, and talks have been continuing through the week, a presidential Blue House source told JTBC.

A second government source said progress was being made in the discussions.

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"We know that there was fairly positive discussions during the working-level contacts," JTBC's source said. "If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits North Korea, he will not return home empty-handed."

The Blue House official said Pompeo is likely to meet with Kim Jong Un if he visits Pyongyang.

In his most recent visit, the top U.S. diplomat was unable to secure an audience with Kim.

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During his meeting with ruling and opposition party leaders on Thursday, Moon said there had been much more secret contact between Washington and Pyongyang than previously surmised.

The meeting of the party leaders with Moon, and a subsequent agreement to form a joint policy consultation body, was a rare moment among the four political parties that have been at odds over issues, including North Korea.

Yonhap reported all sides agreed to actively support inter-Korea ties and Moon's September summit with Kim in Pyongyang.

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"[The parties] will cooperate and support the successful opening of the third [Moon-Kim] summit. They will actively seek exchanges between the legislatures and political parties of South and North Korea and the government will actively support such efforts," the center-right Bareun Party said following the meeting with Moon.

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