US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced hope Wednesday of holding high-level talks soon with North Korea and did not rule out a summit, a break with recent pessimistic signs from both countries.
Pompeo, without elaborating, said there was "more discussion than is publicly noticed" with North Korea.
"I'm hopeful that we'll be able to have a senior discussion before too long and hopefully advance the ball," Pompeo said at the Economic Club of New York.
He refused to rule out completely that President Donald Trump, who has held three meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, would see him again before US elections on November 3.
"I think that's unlikely," he said.
"But in the event that it was appropriate -- we thought we could make material progress and the best way to do that was to put President Trump with Chairman Kim to do it -- I'm confident that the North Koreans and President Trump would find that in our best interest."
Trump was the first sitting US president to meet Kim, and the two agreed in broad terms at their first summit in Singapore in 2018 that North Korea would give up its nuclear program.
But there has been little progress since then, with North Korea demanding sanctions relief, and Pyongyang has recently stepped up threats against the US-allied South.
Former US national security advisor John Bolton, who has vocally differed with Trump on North Korea, has said that the US leader could seek a new summit in an "October surprise" to boost his re-election chances.
But Pompeo's deputy Stephen Biegun, who is in charge of North Korea discussions, tempered expectations last week during a visit to Seoul and Tokyo.
He said that he did not request any meeting with North Korea on his trip.
Trump has spoken fondly of Kim, lauding his "beautiful" letters, and has boasted that he prevented war through his diplomacy.
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