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US Secretary of State Returns to North Korea for Nuclear Talks

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Thursday.

The top American diplomat is expected to meet with officials there until Saturday. President Donald Trump’s administration announced the trip this week.

A U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, met with North Korean officials on Sunday in the truce village of Panmunjom. It marked the first known meeting between U.S. and North Korean officials since Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore.

Speaking on national television on Sunday, national security adviser John Bolton spoke about the idea of denuclearization for the North. He said North Korea’s weapons program could largely be ended in a year.

Officials say North Korea still developing weapons

The diplomatic efforts come as American intelligence officials have stated that North Korea is still processing nuclear fuel and expanding its weapons programs.

Bruce Klingner is with the Heritage Foundation, a research group in Washington, D.C. He said satellite images show that North Korea has expanded a nuclear center and a missile production center. He said North Korea is increasing its production of nuclear materials at both secret and known centers.

In this Thursday, May 24, 2018 photo, smoke and debris rise in the air as barracks buildings for guards and tunneling workers at North Korea's nuclear test site are blown up at Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. (APTN via AP)
In this Thursday, May 24, 2018 photo, smoke and debris rise in the air as barracks buildings for guards and tunneling workers at North Korea's nuclear test site are blown up at Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. (APTN via AP)

Klingner said the U.S. must learn from past mistakes.

David Schmerler is a researcher at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. He told VOA that North Korea appears to be finishing a factory that is known for making parts for solid-fuel missiles.

In other news reports, American intelligence officials have said the North is seeking to mislead the United States about how many weapons it has.

Before Trump and Kim met in Singapore, North Korea destroyed parts of its Punggye-ri nuclear test area. That is where all six of North Korea’s nuclear tests had been carried out.

North Korea invited reporters from several countries -- including the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Britain -- to record the event.

However, a North Korean research website called 38 North says satellite images show that the headquarters and other building remain in place.

Stephen Noerper is a director with the Korea Society. He told VOA it is still “early in the process.”

“It will be a very long path ahead that will be complicated and will require numerous meetings.”

Noerper added that North Korea has made a commitment to denuclearize before the whole international community. However, there is still no signed agreement on how that will be carried out.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Wayne Lee, Steve Herman reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English with additions from Victor Beattie and Zlatica Hoke. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

complicated - adj. having many parts or steps

commitment - n. promise to do or give something

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