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Pompeo Says North Korea Talks Were Productive, Pushes Back on Criticism

Pompeo is greeted by North Korean Director of the United Front Department Kim Yong Chol and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho as he arrives at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang

When Kim added Pompeo "might not have slept well last night" following Friday's discussions, the top USA diplomat said he "slept just fine" and that he agreed the two sides "did have a good set of conversations".

President Trump said he has "confidence" North Korea's leader will abide by their agreement to denuclearize despite the regime's comments characterizing U.S. behavior in the ongoing negotiations as "gangster-like".

Japanese Foreign Ministry officials say in their meeting in Tokyo on Sunday, Pompeo gave Kono details on his latest talks with North Korea, which outlined in detail the steps toward denuclearization the United States expects the North to take.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said North Korea had balked at a written pledge for "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" for historical reasons but stressed that the goal remained the same whether that exact phrase was used.

Suspending the drills cannot be compared, the statement said, with North Korea's irreversible destruction of an underground nuclear testing site - though some U.S. analysts have questioned the importance of that move, which was more symbolic than anything else given the relative ease with which new tunnels could be dug and the progress North Korea has already made in developing explosive nuclear devices.

"This began when the USA - the United States and Vietnam began working together to repatriate the remains of American service members lost in Vietnam", he said. "Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish".

"The U.S. side never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war", an unidentified foreign ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman also blasted the United States for "making great publicity" about the suspension of its joint military drills with South Korea, saying that it was hardly a concession because it was a "highly reversible step which can be resumed anytime, at any moment as all of its military force remains intact in its previously held positions without scrapping even a rifle". "Today we have a strong relationship", Pompeo said on Twitter.

That appeared to be a reference to Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, a prominent North Korea hawk who has been vilified by Pyongyang in the past.

Before Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol dove into Saturday's long day of negotiations, Kim Yong Chol made some snarky comments as he sat with Pompeo in front of cameras.

Lawmakers are asking what comes next if talks between the US and North Korea break down, and are looking back to pre-summit practices.

After his talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo stopped in Tokyo and met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and planned to brief him on his discussion with North Korean officials.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the US remains "very firm' in its stance that three basic goals be met: complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances and the repatriation of remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War. There are things that I have to clarify", Kim, who serves as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), said.

Graham then had a message for Pyongyang, referencing the fact that Kim Yong Chol, a top adviser to Kim Jong-un and a former spy chief, had asked Pompeo if he slept well during his visit to North Korea. But he maintained that progress is being made.

Those include the formation of working group to determine exactly how North Korea's denuclearisation will be verified and a Thursday meeting with Pentagon officials to discuss the return of remains of Americans soldiers killed during the Korean War.

In Tokyo on Sunday, Pompeo rejected the suggestion the two sides were far apart, describing North Korean officials as more receptive to U.S. demands behind closed doors.

'And when you want it bad, you get it bad.

He admitted "there's still more work to be done" in other areas.

As Pompeo left the North Korean capital Saturday, he told reporters that the trip had been "productive" and that progress had been made on a number of issues that required follow-up after the June 12 meeting between Trump and Kim.