The United States has not seen North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and is looking at reports of his health, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, adding that there is a real risk of starvation in the country during the corona virus outbreak.
North Korean media have not reported on Kim Jong Un's whereabouts since it was chaired on April 11, leading to speculation about his health and concerns about the instability of the nuclear-armed country, which could affect other North Asian countries and the United States .
"We haven't seen him. We don't have any information to report today, we're watching it closely," Mike Pompeo told Fox News after being asked about conflicting reports about Kim's health.
Pompeo said the United States is also monitoring the situation in North Korea, which borders China, more closely, given the risk posed by the corona virus.
"There is a real risk of starvation and food shortages in North Korea," he added. "We are closely monitoring each of these things because they have a real impact on our mission to ultimately denuclearize North Korea."
Pompeo said at a later State Department press conference that the United States would continue to focus on denuclearizing North Korea "no matter what happens there."
President Donald Trump met Kim three times in 2018 and 2019 to convince him to abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States. While the talks stalled, Trump continued to celebrate Kim Jong Un as a friend.
Pompeo did not address starvation risk in North Korea, but a North Korean business delegation should talk about food supply and trade issues in Beijing this week, as the outbreak of the coronavirus has seriously disrupted the country's food supply, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said Reuters.
Impoverished and isolated North Korea is vulnerable to food shortages. According to South Korean estimates, 1.1 million people died in the famine of the 1990s.
Officials in South Korea and the United States said Kim may be living in a coastal location to avoid exposure to the new corona virus and were skeptical of media reports that he had a serious illness.
However, they warn that Kim Jong Un's health and location are closely guarded secrets and it is difficult to obtain reliable information in North Korea.
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