Washington/Seoul, (Asian independent) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has renewed Washington’s goal of denuclearizing North Korea and creating a “bright future” for its people after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s return to the public eye following his 20-day absence, a media report said on Monday.
“Our mission has remained the same, to convince the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons, to verify the same, and to then create a brighter future for the North Korean people,” the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency quoted Pompeo as saying in an ABC News interview on Sunday.
“That’s been something President (Donald) Trump’s been focused on since the beginning of his time in office and something we’ll continue to work on,” he added.
On Saturday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on Kim’s visit to a fertilizer factory completion ceremony in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, on Friday, ending rumours of his failing health.
Kim had disappeared from the public view since he presided over a premier ruling party meeting on April 11.
Various rumours emerged afterward, including Kim being in a coma after surgery or the ruler simply self-isolating over coronavirus concerns.
Asked about Kim’s weeks-long absence, Pompeo refused to comment in detail, said the Yonhap News Agency report.
“There’s not much that I can share with you about what we knew about Chairman Kim’s activities during that time. We don’t know why he chose to miss that moment,” he said, referring to his absence from an event marking the April 15 birth anniversary of his late grandfather and national founder, Kim Il-sung.
“We know there have been other extended periods of time where Chairman Kim’s been out of public view as well, so it’s not unprecedented,” he added.