Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Pompeo Meeting With North Korean Officials Postponed - US State Department

Pompeo Meeting With North Korean Officials Postponed - US State Department

The meeting between Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, the former spy chief and now top nuclear negotiator, "will now take place at a later date. when our respective schedules permit", the US side said just after midnight on Wednesday, hours before Pompeo was supposed to travel to NY.

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.

"Ongoing conversations continue to take place", it read.

He visited NY in May for talks with Pompeo in what was the highest-level trip by a North Korean to the United States in almost two decades. It is also unclear which side asked for the postponement.

President Trump has cast North Korea as a crowning diplomatic achievement and is eager for a fresh summit with Kim at which the two may formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

The United States notified the South Korean government of the postponement before the announcement, Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary to the president for public communication, told reporters Wednesday. The State Department said the talks would be rescheduled "when our respective schedules permit".

His insistence on being in "no rush" - which he repeated five times in different formulations - may be a response to criticism that North Korea has not moved quickly enough since the summit.

Trump, in a free-wheeling news conference after midterm elections, said he was willing eventually to ease the pressure on North Korea. -North Korea negotiations have completely broken down or "lost their momentum" because of the postponement.

The meeting agenda had been to "discuss making progress on all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearisation" of North Korea, the State Department had said this week.

Meanwhile, Kim Song-hye at the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and Ri Jong-hyok, the deputy head of the rubberstamp Supreme People's Assembly, will visit South Korea next week for a seminar in Gyeonggi Province discussing peace in the region, according to the Unification Ministry.

High on the agenda were expected to be a verification by USA inspectors of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which it dismantled in May, and its Tongchang-ri missile engine test site, and possibly its key Yongbyon nuclear complex as well.

To that end, the USA and South Korea announced last week the creation of a new working group to "strengthen our close coordination", including on "sanctions implementation and inter-Korean cooperation that comply with the United Nations sanctions", according to State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino.

Nauert said the United States remained focussed on fulfilling the commitments agreed to by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit in June, reported The Washington Post.

North Korea - considered by human rights groups to be one of the most oppressive regimes in the world - has for years sought formal United States recognition as a way to guarantee the regime's survival.

South Korea's foreign ministry said the meeting delay was "regrettable" but insisted that "excessively pessimistic interpretation was unnecessary". During the meeting, the two sides reached an agreement stipulating that Pyongyang would make efforts toward the promotion of complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in exchange for security guarantees for North Korea.

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