Crippling international sanctions on North Korea will not be eased until "complete denuclearisation" takes place, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, dismissing claims from Pyongyang that the US had offered to drop some sanctions during the process.
Pompeo spoke in South Korea two days after the historic meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
“We’re going to get denuclearisation,” Pompeo said. "Only then will there be relief from sanctions.”
Pompeo also downplayed Trump's claim that North Korea no longer represented a nuclear threat.
"When he talked about the reduction in nuclear threat ... it was with eyes wide open," Pompeo said. "It could be the case that our efforts will not work, but we are determined to set the conditions."
The declaration signed by the leaders was vague, stating that the two nations would cooperate toward "new relations," with the US providing undefined security guarantees to North Korea.
Afterwards, Trump said sanctions would remain in place for now but that the US would halt the massive US-South Korea military drills that repeatedly riled Kim over the years.
"We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should," Trump said.
A halt in the exercises, in return for denuclearisation, had been suggested by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin months ago. Still, Trump's remarks came as a surprise in South Korea, where the exercises are viewed as a crucial deterrent against possible aggression from the North.