Mike Pompeo has said the US is prepared to walk away from negotiations with North Korea if upcoming talks on its nuclear weapons programme head in the wrong direction.
The US secretary of state, who has met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang twice in recent weeks to prepare the groundwork for a summit with President Donald Trump, says the talks are “still scheduled for June 12” despite reports of differences between the two sides.
But in a testimony on Wednesday to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, DC, he said: “A bad deal is not an option.
“The American people are counting on us to get this right. If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away.
“We’re optimistic that we can achieve an outcome that would be great for the world.”
Seeking ‘credible steps’
Pompeo, who was appointed the top American diplomat on April 26, said the US has no intention of making concessions to Pyongyang.
“Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
In their most recent meeting two weeks ago, Pompeo said he and Kim talked about their mutual goals for the talks.
WATCH: Trump says historic summit with Kim could be delayed (01:54)
“We still have a lots of work to do to find common ground,” he said.
But Kim “has shared candidly that he understands that economic growth for his people, the well-being of his people, depends on a strategic shift”, he said.
In exchange for denuclearisation, Kim wanted “economic help from America in the form of private sector business’s knowledge and know-how” as well as security guarantees, he said.
Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said Pompeo’s main priority as secretary of state is to address global proliferation.
“Under that umbrella, you have North Korea and you have Iran,” she said. “It was clear from his speech that this is an administration that is defensive on Iran but optimistic on North Korea.”
Stand on Iran
Addressing Iran‘s nuclear programme, Pompeo, a former CIA chief, told the hearing that the Trump administration intends to work with “as many partners, friends and allies as possible” to stop what he described as all of the country’s nuclear and non-nuclear threats.
Trump, announced earlier this month that he was pulling the US out from a 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, and re-imposing sanctions on the country.
The other signatories to the pact – Germany, France, UK, France and Russia – have strongly opposed the move.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies