Trump only wants North Korea summit if real progress possible: Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 15, 2020. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to pour cold water on Wednesday on the possibility of another U.S. summit with North Korea, saying the U.S. election was approaching and President Donald Trump only wanted to engage if there was likelihood of real progress.

Pompeo also told a livestreamed interview with The Hill that the North Koreans had “chosen at this point in time not to engage in a way that can lead to a potential solution.”

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said last week that another summit between him and Trump was unlikely this year, but “a surprise thing may still happen.”

Pompeo later told an online interaction with the Economic Club of New York that there was more discussion with North Korea than was publicly noticed and he was “hopeful” it would be possible to have a senior-level discussion before too long.

He referred to talk of another summit before the U.S. presidential election in November in which Trump is seeking a second term.

“It’s now July. I think that’s unlikely, but in the event that it was appropriate, we thought we could make material progress and the best way to do that was to put President Trump with Chairman Kim to do it, I’m confident that the North Koreans and President Trump would find that in our best interest.”

Trump and Kim met three times, once in 2018 and twice in 2019, but failed to make progress on U.S. calls for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and Pyongyang’s demands for an end to international sanctions.

Trump said in an interview on July 7 he would be willing to hold another summit if he thought it was going to be helpful.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Peter Cooney