WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) — Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his memoirs published Tuesday that the US military presence in South Korea does not bother North Korea or its leader Kim Jong-un at all. Rather, the North sees the US military presence in the South as a form of protection against Chinese hegemony, according to Pompeo.
Pompeo said the North Korean leader raised the issue of joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea during their first meeting in Pyongyang. “I hinted to him that this is a bit hypocritical, given that his planes and missiles can within minutes, or perhaps seconds, destroy the city of Seoul, South Korea, which has a population of ten million and is located only tens of kilometers from the demilitarized zone.” , according to him.
Pompeo frequented the North during the height of the US-North Korea summit, which led to three historic meetings between then-US President Donald Trump and the North’s leader in 2018 and 2019.
He also told Kim, Pompeo said, that the CCP had “repeatedly told the US that US forces leaving South Korea would make Chairman Kim happy.”
“At that point, Kim laughed and slammed the table with glee, declaring the Chinese liars,” Pompeo wrote. “He (Kim) said he needs the Americans in South Korea to protect him from the CCP, and that the CCP needs the Americans out so that it can deal with peninsulas like Tibet and Xinjiang,” he added.
Pompeo also brought it up to US policymakers, saying, “The expansion of the United States’ missile and ground capabilities on the Korean Peninsula will not bother the North Koreans at all.”-
The former foreign minister said Kim made three commitments during his short visit to Pyongyang. “He vowed to completely get rid of his nuclear weapons, saying they represent a huge economic burden and have made his nation a pariah in the eyes of the world,” he added. “And he pledged to halt the implementation of his programs to develop nuclear and missile weapons. He also pledged to meet with President Trump,” according to him.--
Kim and Trump held their first-ever summit in Singapore in June 2018, two months after Pyongyang announced its voluntary moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests.
The second summit between Trump and Kim, held in Vietnam in February 2019, ended without an agreement. The two leaders then met again briefly inside the Demilitarized Zone during Trump’s visit to Seoul in June 2019, but the meeting ended again without any progress.
North Korea last year ended its moratorium on weapons tests, firing 69 ballistic missiles, including eight ICBMs, breaking its one-year-old record of 25 ballistic missiles.