US hasn’t seen Kim Jong-un but closely watching regime: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, US. (File/Reuters)

Washington/Seoul, April 30 (IANS) The US has had no sightings of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un amid intense speculation that he may be seriously unwell, but continues to monitor what is happening inside the regime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

The Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency quoted Pompeo as saying in a Fox News interview on Wednesday that he didn’t have much to add to what President Donald Trump said regarding Kim’s health.

“We haven’t seen him,” Pompeo said.

“We don’t have any information to report today. We’re watching it closely, keeping track of what’s going on not only around Chairman Kim himself, but more broadly inside of North Korea.”

Pompeo also noted the risk to North Koreans from COVID-19, while communist regime has insisted it has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but many suspect it may be covering up an outbreak.

“There is a real risk that there will be a famine, a food shortage inside of North Korea, too,” Pompeo was quoted by the Yonhap News Agency as saying in the interview.

“We’re watching each of those things closely because they have a real impact on our mission set, which (is) to ultimately denuclearize North Korea.”

While addressing a White House press briefing on Monday, Trump said: “I do have a very good idea, but I can’t talk about it now. I just wish him well. I’ve had a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un.

But Trump later added: “Nobody knows where he is.”

Kim has been out of public view since April 11, when he presided over a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party.

His absence from an April 15 commemoration of the birthday of his late grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, sparked speculation that he may be seriously ill, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

South Korean officials have insisted that nothing unusual has been detected inside the regime and cautioned against what one official called “fake news” regarding Kim Jong-un’s health.

News reports have described him as being in “grave danger” after surgery or hiding out at a coastal resort to avoid infection by the coronavirus.

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