WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly shelved plans to meet a top North Korean official in New York, the latest twist in diplomacy to secure a potentially landmark peace deal.
The talks between President Donald Trump’s top diplomat and the North Korean delegation, which had been due on Thursday, “will now take place at a later date,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“We will reconvene when our respective schedules permit,” she added in a statement.
State Department officials gave no further reasons for the delay in the meeting, although North Korea has stepped up its demands that the United States lift sanctions.
The State Department had just one day earlier confirmed that Pompeo would meet in New York with Kim Yong Chol — one of the North Korean leader’s right-hand men — to discuss progress toward a denuclearization pact and to work to arrange a second summit following landmark talks between Trump and Kim in June.
Although Trump has had warm words since he meet with Kim in Singapore, his administration has nevertheless insisted on maintaining pressure on North Korea until a final agreement is reached.
North Korea said last week that it would “seriously” consider returning to a state policy aimed at building nuclear weapons unless Washington lifts sanctions.
“The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible,” said a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
“What remains to be done is the US corresponding reply,” it added.
Pompeo, speaking Sunday on Fox News, said he was “not worried” about the North Korean demands and insisted there would be “no economic relief until we have achieved our ultimate objective.”
“I expect we’ll make some real progress, including an effort to make sure that the summit between our two leaders can take place where we can make substantial steps toward denuclearization,” Pompeo said separately Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”