WASHINGTON – Secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Thursday appointed a senior executive with Ford Motor Co. to be his special envoy to North Korea and said that they both would visit Pyongyang next week.
Pompeo announced that he had selected Stephen Biegun to handle day-to-day negotiations with the North about dismantling its nuclear weapons program. Pompeo has always been the trouble for President, Donald Trump, and has already made three trips to Pyongyang since April, but there are few visible signs of progress in the talks.
Pompeo said he and Biegun would travel to North Korea “to further diplomatic progress in the direction of our goal” the full, final and complete denuclearization. Pompeo offered no other details about the trip.
In a short statement to journalists at the State Department, he and Biegun both noted that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had promised to denuclearize in his historic meeting in June with Trump.
“The problems are difficult, and they will be difficult to solve,” Biegun said. “But the president has an opening and one that we must seize every opportunity to realize its vision for a peaceful future for the people of North Korea. This begins with the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, as agreed to by the Chairman of Kim Jong-Un on the top with the President’s Trump card in Singapore.”
Although the North has ceased nuclear and missile tests and has a number of steps in other areas, it must begin with the dismantling of nuclear weapons and continues to develop ballistic missiles. Pompeo and other officials have said sanctions will remain on North Korea to denuclearization is completed and verified, but have suggested that other confidence-building measures are possible.
Biegun, Ford’s vice president of international governmental affairs, was a staff member of the White House and aide to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice during President George W. Bush administration. He was also an advisor to the former Senate majority Leader Bill First, and it is rumored that a contender to replace H. R. McMaster as a Trump card, the national security adviser.
His appointment is the latest in a series of special envoy of the posts filled by Pompeo, who is seeking to tap veteran diplomats and national security officials to perform delicate negotiations. Last week, he appointed the State Department policy planning chief, Brian Hook, to perform a group dedicated to Iran’s problems.
He is also the name of former ambassador James Jeffrey, special envoy to Syria and is expected soon to appoint another former ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the subjects with regard to Afghanistan.