"Two steps forward, and a step or two back."
That's how U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo describes the current situation with North Korea.
Speaking to Silicon Valley business leaders in San Francisco on Monday, local time, Pompeo said Washington remains in communication with the North as it tries to persuade the regime to denuclearize.
He said he remains hopeful North Korea will make the right decision, not just for the world, but for the North Korean people, as well.
The top U.S. diplomat added that the North's weapons systems pose a real risk to the world, but insisted the U.S. doesn't pose a security risk to the North Koreans.
He added that the Trump administration wants a brighter future for the people of North Korea, and if the 'right arrangement' is made,.. the two sides can have a serious conversation and hopefully convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to move away from nuclear weapons.
The message comes as Washington continues to press North Korea for talks, after a birthday message was delivered from U.S. President Donald Trump to Kim Jong-un last week.
But, in the meantime, the U.S. keeps tightening the economic screws on the regime.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday, Washington has sanctioned two North Korean entities for helping the regime send laborers abroad.
Targeted are North Korea-based Namgang Trading Corporation, and a China-based North Korean lodging facility called Beijing Sukbakso.
The sanctions freeze the entities' property and interests in the U.S., or those in possession of Americans and bans all U.S. dealings with them.
North Korean workers sent overseas are a major source of income for the regime.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.