Pompeo won't say whether North Korean negotiators were executed over failed Hanoi summit

Pompeo won't say whether North Korean negotiators were executed over failed Hanoi summit
Image via Shutterstock.

On ABC's This Week, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's primary duty this week was to attempt to put a respectable face on Donald Trump's assertion, on Twitter, that dictator Kim Jong Un "knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me." This, after North Korea conducted its first new short range missile test in over a year and looks increasingly unlikely to negotiate any serious end to its ongoing nuclear program.


The majority of Pompeo's defenses were the usual bluster. The short-staffed and mostly ignored Pompeo has little to no impact on what Donald Trump will say or do with regard to North Korea, or Russia, or anywhere else, requiring him to spend most of his rhetorical time repeating banalities of no particular consequence. He expressed "enormous sympathy" for Otto Warmbier's grieving mother, but declared that Trump had "put on the toughest sanctions in the history of the world" on North Korea. And so forth.

There was one curious moment, however. Pompeo was asked about reports that some of the North Korean negotiators who met with the U.S. in Hanoi have now been executed. Pompeo did not dispute the reports, but—stonefaced in the beginning but with a smile by the end—also expressed little apparent concern about them.

JONATHAN KARL: There were reports out of -- out of the region that after the Hanoi summit several of the people that you were negotiating with, that were part of that negotiating team at Hanoi were executed. Do we believe those reports are accurate?POMPEO: Jonathan, I don't anything to add to that for you this morning.

KARL: But there—there seems to have been some kind of a—of a shakeup of his team over there?

POMPEO: It does appear that the next time we have serious conversations that my counterpart will be someone else, but we don’t know that for sure, just as President Trump gets to decide who his negotiators will be, Chairman Kim will get to make his own decisions who he asks to have these discussion.

No worries. It may be that his "counterpart” will be someone else, the next time around, but the negotiations will continue.

It is unlikely that North Korea will run out of negotiators, after all. Possible, but unlikely.

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