United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un understands that the country must give up its nuclear weapons as fast as possible, and that there would be no relief on sanctions on Pyongyang till the process is complete, AFP reported.

“We believe that Kim Jong-un understands the urgency...that we must do this quickly,” said Pompeo, who is in South Korea to brief his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday’s historic summit between Washington and Pyongyang. The following day, US President Donald Trump claimed that the dialogue had helped avert a “potential nuclear catastrophe”.

Pompeo said the US, North Korea and South Korea are committed to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and emphasised that verification would be central to the process, the Financial Times reported.

However, Seoul was surprised by Trump’s announcement that the US would halt its “provocative” joint military drills with South Korea as long as negotiations were going on with the North. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, who addressed a press conference along with Pompeo and his Japanese counterpart Tara Kono, later said the alliance with the US remains “as robust as ever”.

Pompeo also met South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday. “There have been many analyses on the outcome of the summit but I think what’s most important was that the people of the world, including those in the United States, Japan and Koreans, have all been able to escape the threat of war, nuclear weapons and missiles,” Moon said ahead of their meeting.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia urged the UN Security Council to consider steps towards lifting sanctions on North Korea, AFP reported. Last year, the council adopted three rounds of tough economic sanctions, banned most of North Korea’s exports of raw commodities, and severely restricted oil supplies.