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Pompeo touts North Korea progress, talks tough on trade in Detroit speech

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heralded progress in the US-North Korean relationship in a speech Monday, while callin...

Posted: Jun 18, 2018 10:02 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2018 10:02 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heralded progress in the US-North Korean relationship in a speech Monday, while calling out US friends and foes alike for their trade and economic policies.

Addressing the Detroit Economic Club, Pompeo said Kim Jong Un "has made very clear his commitment to fully denuclearize his country" in exchange for promises from the United States, including altering the Korean armistice agreement. He also hinted he may return to Pyongyang soon.

Asked whether there will be another leaders' summit between President Donald Trump and Kim, Pompeo said it's "hard to know."

"There's a lot of work between here and there," said Pompeo. "My team is already doing it. I'll likely travel back before too terribly long."

Full denuclearization

It wasn't clear if the top US diplomat meant Pyongyang, where he has traveled twice to prepare for the meeting between Trump and Kim, or Singapore, where the two leaders held their historic summit on June 12.

Kim, said Pompeo, "has made very clear his commitment to fully denuclearize his country."

"That's everything, right?" he added to applause. "It's not just the weapons systems, it's everything."

"In return for that, the President has committed to making sure that we alter the armistice agreement, provide the security assurances that Chairman Kim needs," said Pompeo.

The Korean armistice agreement, in place since 1953, was signed by the China, North Korea and the US and formally divided the peninsula.

Pompeo also highlighted a video that Trump showed Kim at the summit.

"It shows what North Korea could be like," said Pompeo, mentioning North Korea's beaches and other potential for development. "There's a lot of work to make that, but President Trump is committed to delivering on that part of the bargain as well," he said.

In his speech, Pompeo called out US economic adversary China, as well as US allies like Canada, over their trade policies, saying the Trump administration is committed to righting imbalances and elevating the interests of American workers.

"For too long, America has allowed the free trade framework to become distorted to the advantages of countries other than the United States," Pompeo said in his remarks. "Remember that our diplomacy puts American workers and American businesses first."

"This isn't just China," he said, although he singled out China repeatedly during his remarks for cyber espionage and for committing an "unprecedented level of larceny" when it comes to intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers -- an issue he said he raised with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in Beijing.

"President Trump has clearly said that the asymmetric trade relationships with the G-7 also need to be fundamentally reconsidered," Pompeo noted, alluding vaguely to a spat between Trump and his counterparts at the G-7 leaders' summit earlier this month.

"A simple moral principle"

"They need to lower their trade barriers. They need to accept our vegetables, our beef, our fruits, our machine products," he said. "These are non-tariff barriers that ought not to exist if free and fair trade is to be achieved."

"It's a simple moral principle, this idea of fairness," Pompeo went on to say. "As you saw at the G-7, President Trump made very clear: We are happy to have zero percent tariffs on every product. We are happy to eliminate all subsidies. We'd be thrilled to see non-tariff barriers eliminated in their entirety. If every country does that, we will too, and I am confident that will grow America."

The secretary of state said he was "confident" the US would reach some sort of agreement with Canada and Mexico as part of NAFTA talks.

He also insisted the US is committed to maintaining its "economic sovereignty" -- raising the specter of Brexit as an apparent warning against multilateral economic frameworks.

"The experience of Brexit -- which is ongoing -- and of the European Union, shows that it is difficult to recover economic independence once it's relinquished," said Pompeo. "It also shows that the economic policy that centralize power diminish the free market capacity for wealth creation."

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