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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, pose for photographs at the The Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    US, N Korea Officials Hold First 'Productive' High-Level Meeting - State Dept

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    Since the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in June, the denuclearization talks have reportedly stalled, with Pyongyang demanding immediate sanctions relief and Washington urging North Korea to take more steps to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.

    The US State Department said in a press release on Friday that US and North Korean officials held a productive working level meeting after talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol.

    "The Secretary [Pompeo], Special Representative [Stephen] Biegun, and Vice Chairman Kim discussed efforts to make progress on the commitments President [Donald] Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore," the release said on Friday after the meeting in Washington. "At the conclusion of the Secretary’s meeting with Vice Chairman Kim, the two sides held a productive first meeting at the working level", the release said.

    The State Department also said that US Special Envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun will participate in an international conference hosted by the Swedish government from January 19 to 22.

    Trump has been considering a second summit with Kim Jong Un to speed up denuclearization. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Friday that Trump will hold his second summit with Kim "near the end of February".

    The situation on the Korean Peninsula has improved since the beginning of last year. During this time, North Korean leader and South Korean President Moon Jae In have held several meetings, while Kim even had a summit with Trump in Singapore. This meeting yielded an agreement stipulating that Pyongyang would make efforts to promote the complete denuclearization of the peninsula in exchange for the United States and South Korea freezing their military drills, as well as the potential removal of US sanctions.

    READ MORE: 'North Korea Will Not Make, Test Nuclear Weapons': Trump Ready to Meet Kim

    Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Thursday during the rollout of the 2019 Missile Defense Review that the missile capabilities of North Korea "remain a significant concern".

    Last year, The Washington Post reported, citing officials familiar with the matter, that US intelligence had seen signs of the construction of new missiles in North Korea. In particular, the report said that satellite photos and other evidence showed that work was underway on at least one or possibly two liquid-fueled ICBMs at a research facility in Sanumdong.

    In December, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that the North Korean military had tested telemetry equipment used for tracking launched intercontinental ballistic missiles. The outlet said that the telemetry tests are an integral part of North Korea's nuclear program development.

    READ MORE: South Korea Mulls Boosting Support to North Korea Defectors – Ministry

    Pyongyang reportedly conducted its latest missile launch in November 2017. Last year, Kim announced that the country would suspend its ICBM launches and missile tests ahead of the summits with Moon and Trump.

    Related:

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    South Korea’s First F-35s to Arrive in March Amid Easing Tensions With North
    US Still Awaits Concrete Steps From North Korea on its Nuclear Program - Pence
    US Offered North Korea to Conduct Summit in Vietnam in Mid-February - Reports
    Tags:
    Kim Yong-chol, Mike Pompeo, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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