Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to North Korea this weekend where he will meet with dictator Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Sunday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Tuesday.
Alluding to a second U.S.
He will also travel to Japan, South Korea and China on his swing through Asia, she said.
'I think it shows forward progress and momentum that the secretary is making his fourth trip back in less than a year, ' Nauert said.
"Everybody recognizes that there is a ways to go", she said, but added: "We feel confident enough to hop on a plane to continue these negotiations".
Pompeo is expected to lay the groundwork for a second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim.
The invitation to return to Pyongyang to discuss North Korean denuclearization efforts was made during a meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho amid United Nations sessions last week.
Nauert said the stops in Japan, South Korea and China were meant to brief counterparts on the Pyongyang talks.
Kim "wants to see things happen for North Korea that are great", Trump said, speaking to reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
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Kim has committed to give up his country's nuclear weapons although his actions have fallen short of Washington's demands for a complete inventory of North Korea's weapons programs and irreversible steps to give up a nuclear arsenal that potentially threatens the United States.
Trump has nevertheless hailed progress and on Saturday took his enthusiasm for his detente with Kim to new heights by declaring at a rally with supporters that "we fell in love" after exchanging letters.
The US has insisted on maintaining tight United Nations sanctions against North Korea during the diplomatic drive, while Beijing has said it is time to start easing sanctions.
It will be the fourth trip by Pompeo to longtime United States pariah North Korea as the Trump administration looks to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Washington has also resisted calls to relax tough global sanctions.
The top U.S. diplomat announced last week that he was ready to return to North Korea after meeting Ri, his counterpart, at the United Nations.
After the talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo will head later Sunday to Seoul, where he will meet President Moon Jae-in, a dove who has helped spearhead the reconciliation efforts with North Korea. We're hopeful. We're working toward that goal.
The world stands behind those sanctions that are put in place. We got behind the maximum pressure campaign.
Pompeo's trip to China comes at a time of deteriorating relations and tit-for-tat tariffs sparked by Trump's accusations of unfair Chinese trade practices.
Trump last week slapped $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and has accused Beijing of interfering in the upcoming USA election because of his hard line on trade. "I don't have anything beyond that right now".
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