North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and US President Donald Trump are due to meet for a second high-profile summit, in Hanoi (SAUL LOEB)
Washington (AFP) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underlined the need for different foreign policy approaches to Iran and North Korea in comments published Thursday, describing Tehran as more “destabilizing” than Pyongyang.
“We’ve made very clear that these situations are very different. We take each of them where we find them,” he told US television station CBS in excerpts of a transcript released by the State Department.
Washington set 12 tough conditions on talks with Iran, yet President Donald Trump made almost no stipulations on meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last year and the White House has had follow-up contacts with the regime.
“North Korea today has weapons, nuclear weapons, capable of reaching the United States of America,” Pompeo said.
“This is a threat that President Trump said we needed to take on now and take on immediately. The president’s chosen to meet with Chairman Kim.”
Trump and Kim are due to follow their landmark first summit in Singapore last June with a meeting in Hanoi from February 27 to 28.
“North Korea behaves very differently. They’re not destabilizing Yemen. They’re not destabilizing Syria. They’re not conducting enormous assassination campaigns,” Pompeo said.
“These countries’ behaviors are different, therefore, the way America is approaching resolving this.”
The US administration has repeatedly accused North Korea in recent years of destabilizing its East Asian neighbors with its nuclear arms race and missiles pointed toward Seoul.
The North’s posture is the biggest reason for American military presence in South Korea and Japan — to help protect allies against the North Korean threat.
Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests led Washington to demand ever-firmer sanctions until late 2017. In November of that year, the United States placed North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terror.
“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said at the time.
The US also pointed to the murder in Malaysia of Kim’s half-brother and potential rival Kim Jong Nam, using nerve agent.
Trump accused the North of having tortured American student Otto Warmbier, who was detained by Pyongyang and died after being repatriated from the hermit state while already in a coma.
Kim’s regime is also described in State Department reports as one of the worst violators of human rights.
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