China US talks on North Korea get off to frosty start

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Pompeo is on a whistle-stop tour around Asia mainly focused on North Korea's nuclear program, but upon arrival in Beijing, the agenda swiftly pivoted to the burgeoning acrimony between the world's two biggest economies, sparked by PresidentDonald Trump's trade war and fueled by his allegations that the Chinese government is "meddling" in next month's midterm elections. The visit was the latest indication of deteriorating ties between the US and China, as the two sides tussle over everything from trade to Taiwan and the South China Sea.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has invited Pope Francis to visit his country, according to South Korean officials. Also, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui visited Beijing and Moscow last week and reportedly discussed arrangements for Kim's visits.

"When you speak the same language it is because you have the same mother, and this gives us hope", the pope said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he held "productive" talks with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. But that wasn't an advance on comments Trump made last month in NY, when he said he wanted to meet Kim "very soon".

The polite but edgy tone underscored the plunge in US-Chinese relations as the administration of President Donald Trump confronts Beijing over its technology policies and territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The North's regime since then has allowed Catholic organisations to run aid projects in the impoverished country, but direct relations with the Vatican are non-existent. Choe was out of the country when the Americans arrived - meeting officials from China and Russian Federation.

Stephen Biegun, new USA nuclear envoy who was accompanying the secretary, said he offered on Sunday to meet his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, "as soon as possible" and they were in discussion over specific dates and location.

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Pompeo met Wang and Yang Jiechi, a senior Cabinet official and former foreign minister, after talks Sunday with Kim in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang.

"President Trump is very close to losing control", he said.

The inspectors will visit a missile engine test facility and the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site as soon as the logistics are worked out, Pompeo said.

During last month's summit, Kim also reaffirmed efforts to ease military tension on the flashpoint peninsula but remained vague on measures on how to dismantle his widely-feared atomic arsenal.

Pompeo tweeted after the meeting, "Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim". In Beijing, Pompeo met his Chinese counterparts to discuss maintaining sanctions, although unrelated disputes between the two countries spilled into public view and he didn't meet with President Xi Jinping.

But this time, the North Korean reaction to the talks was much more positive.

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