From the moment Secretary of State Michael Pompeo arrived in Pyongyang on Sunday, North Korean officials made clear who was in control and how little space the top U.S. diplomat would have setting the terms of the discussion that would follow.
Pompeo was greeted on the airport tarmac by senior official Kim Yong Chol, who told him that only three people could join him in the meeting that he’d come for with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim Yong Chol also made clear that Pompeo’s preferred translator wouldn’t be allowed, and his bodyguard would have to leave his weapon behind, according to a pool reporter traveling with Pompeo, Bloomberg News reported.
“We will make — we will figure it out and make it work.” Pompeo stated as he was instructed that his bodyguard had to relinquish his firearm Pompeo said his bodyguard is a “big guy”.
“There was an exchange of opinions of the top leadership of the two countries on the issues arising in holding the second DPRK-US summit talks, followed by an in-depth discussion of them,” ~ KCNA (Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency )
The brief-but-tense situation was the start of a day-long visit to Pyongyang, it just goes to show just how hard the secretary of state must fight for even the smallest concession from Kim’s regime as he seeks to secure a deal for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons for good.
Both sides once again claimed the talks went well, though no evidence of any progress on North Korea’s disarming their nuclear weapons and stopping their ICBM and nuclear warheads has yet to be provided.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.