Pompeo 'confident' that Americans would invest in an 'open and rule-based North Korea'

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Americans would invest in North Korea if the hermit kingdom opened its doors to private investment.
  • "I am confident there are Americans who would want to invest in an open and rule-based North Korea," Pompeo said in an interview with CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
  • "We've told Chairman Kim: If we can denuclearize your country, there is a brighter future for the North Korean people," Pompeo said.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the threats the U.S. is facing worldwide at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, USA on February 13, 2018.
Samuel Corum | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the threats the U.S. is facing worldwide at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, USA on February 13, 2018.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Americans would invest in North Korea if the hermit kingdom opened its doors to private investment.

"I am confident there are Americans who would want to invest in an open and rule-based North Korea," Pompeo said in an interview with CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

"We've told Chairman Kim: If we can denuclearize your country, there is a brighter future for the North Korean people," Pompeo said.

Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement last month committing to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," though experts have debated the significance of the brief accord.

Pompeo has previously said that private U.S. firms could be permitted to invest in a denuclearized North Korea, suggesting possible investments in agriculture and energy.

Pompeo's CNBC interview came hours after the secretary of state announced $113 million in new investments across the Indo-Pacific region, which includes North Korea.

"We are convinced that American engagement in the Indo-Pacific region benefits all countries in that region," Pompeo said Monday. "We want it to be free. We want it to be open."

Pompeo said the United States had discussed with Kim ways to grow the North Korean economy, stressing a "rule-based system" and the benefits of foreign direct investment.

The investments across the region are widely seen as the Trump administration's response to China's vast infrastructure spending across Asia, Europe and Africa. Pompeo said Monday that the U.S. is not retaliating against the Chinese, though he did say the U.S. would "oppose any country" that sought to control the region.

The Trump administration has had a rocky relationship with China, facing off against the country on trade and China's actions in the South China Sea. Despite the friction, Trump has maintained a positive relationship with Chinese president Xi Jinping and said in April that the two "will always be friends" despite their disagreements on trade.

China is North Korea's only major trading partner and has played an on-again-off-again role in assisting the Trump administration's nuclear negotiations with the country.

Earlier this month, the president suggested that China may be pushing North Korea to break its agreement with the United States.

Trump wrote in a post on Twitter that he had "confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed" but suggested that China may "be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade."

"Hope Not!" the president wrote.

The interview Monday came before Pompeo's planned visit to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia later in the week.