Japan trying to arrange Abe-Trump talks before US-North Korea summit

Melania Trump and Donald

EPAMelania Trump North Korea released the three US citizens

In a statement carried by state media, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said that all of the tunnels at the site will be destroyed by explosion, and that observation and research facilities and ground-based guard units will also be removed.

Speaking to reporters, Pompeo said the United States would be "prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends".

Singapore was chosen as the site for next month's summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because of its neutrality and security, the White House's principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told journalists. "I think there's a complete agreement about what the ultimate objectives are", he said.

"We'll require a robust verification program, one that we would undertake with partners around the world which would achieve that outcome", he warned.

Pompeo, two weeks and one day on the job, returned early Thursday from what he called a "productive" meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un to agree on details for the Trump-Kim summit.

"We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!"

Pompeo also suggested that the US and North Korea could one day be "partners".

"If he can end the standoff that has prevailed since the 1950-53 Korean War, he will have won a place in history that may offer redemption in posterity even if his presidency ends in ignominy", CNN commented.

He said his talks with Kim on Wednesday had been "warm", "constructive", and "good" and that he made clear that if North Korea gets rid of its nuclear weapons in a permanent and verifiable way, the U.S.is willing to help the impoverished nation boost its economy and living stands to levels like those in prosperous South Korea.

Earlier Thursday, with the American former detainees by his side on a dark air base tarmac, Trump said during a made-for-TV ceremony that it was a "great honor" to welcome the men back to the USA, but he added that "the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons".

At a ruling party meeting last month, North Korea had already announced that it has suspended all tests of nuclear devices and ICBMs and the plan to close the nuclear testing ground.

The foreign minister also ruled out any easing of sanctions against North Korea in the near future. But while the US demands an immediate dismantlement of the nuclear program, Kim has called for a phased and synchronized approach, leading skeptics to believe his real intention is to win sanctions relief.

"We had good conversations about the histories of our two nations, the challenges that we've had between us", he said.

"We've been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months", Pompeo said en route to North Korea.

Experts told VOA on Tuesday that Pompeo's second trip to North Korea, following Kim's second meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, shows that negotiations have reached a critical juncture.

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