Pyongyang: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to Pyongyang Sunday for new crunch talks with Kim Jong Un on denuclearisation and a second US-North Korean summit.
Pompeo departed from Tokyo, where he spent the first leg of a tour that will include stops in Pyongyang, South Korea and China.
"Next stop Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim and continue our work to fulfil the commitments made (by) POTUS and Chairman Kim," Pompeo tweeted, using an acronym to refer to US President Donald Trump.
The trip will be Pompeo's fourth to Pyongyang, as the contours of a possibly historic US-North Korea deal take shape.
On the flight to Tokyo, Pompeo said his aim was to "develop sufficient trust" between Washington and Pyongyang to inch towards peace.
"Then we are also going to set up the next summit," said Pompeo. However, he played down expectations for a breakthrough.
"I doubt we will get it nailed but begin to develop options for both location and timing for when Chairman Kim will meet with the president again. Maybe we will get further than that," said the top US diplomat.
In June, Trump met Kim in Singapore for the first-ever summit between the countries. No sitting US president has ever visited North Korea, which according to human rights groups remains one of the most repressive countries on Earth.
Since the Singapore summit, which yielded what critics charge was only a vague commitment by Kim towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the road towards warmer ties has been bumpy.
Trump scrapped a previously planned trip by his top diplomat to Pyongyang after what he said was insufficient progress towards implementing the terms of the Singapore declaration.
But the unorthodox US president has also since declared himself "in love" with Kim.
Washington and Pyongyang have sparred over the exact terms of their vaguely-worded agreement in Singapore, with the US pushing to maintain sanctions and pressure against the North until its "final, fully verified denuclearisation.
Pompeo's trips to Pyongyang have been met with noticeably less bonhomie from North Korean officials compared to their dealings with his boss Trump.
After a visit in July in which Pompeo said the two foes had made progress on key issues, the North released a statement condemning "gangster-like" demands from the US within hours of the Secretary of State departing, raising questions over how much the two sides really saw eye to eye....