Where does the diplomatic track turn next?
State Department Official: North Korea's Missile Tests are 'Huge Mistake'
BANGKOK—Brushing aside repeated entreaties from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a meeting, North Korea was a no-show this week at a diplomatic forum in Bangkok.
The snub didn’t deter Pompeo from holding out hope that Pyongyang soon will come back to the table and resume denuclearization talks.
From the get-go, North Korea loomed large over the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum. Not helping matters, North Korea test-fired short-range ballistic missiles three times in the past week, casting further doubts on U.S.-led efforts to denuclearize the reclusive communist regime and de-escalate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Nevertheless, going into the forum Thursday, Pompeo said he and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, also in Bangkok this week, were both ready to resume talks with Pyongyang.
“We stand ready to continue our diplomatic conversation with the North Koreans,” Pompeo told reporters at a joint news conference Thursday with Thailand’s foreign minister. “I regret that it looks like I’m not going to have the opportunity to do that while I’m here in Bangkok, but we’re ready to go.”
Pompeo’s arrival in Asia on Wednesday was met by news of a North Korean missile test—coming just days after Pyongyang tested two KN-23 missiles. Then on Friday, despite Pompeo’s calls for a meeting in Bangkok, North Korea conducted another missile test—its third in one week.
“The diplomatic path is often fraught with bumps,” Pompeo said during a speech Friday, adding that behind-the-scenes communications were ongoing between the U.S. and North Korea.
“Lots of conversations are taking place,” Pompeo said, adding that diplomacy is “the right approach.”