Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is no longer meeting with a top North Korean official on Thursday in New York to discuss denuclearization, as was originally planned.
The meeting “will now take place at a later date,” according to a statement released very late Wednesday night by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
“We will reconvene when our respective schedules permit. Ongoing conversations continue to take place. The United States remains focused on fulfilling the commitments agreed to by President Trump and Chairman Kim at the Singapore Summit in June,” she said.
The U.S. said the meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official would reconvene “when our respective schedules permit” https://t.co/5ktIRGgXcU
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 7, 2018
No reason was given other than scheduling conflict, although tensions between North Korea and the U.S. recently rose when North Korea threatened to resume its nuclear weapons program if the U.S. doesn’t lift economic sanctions.
Pompeo had in October met again with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and said the meeting was “productive.”
Kim had later in the day agreed to a second summit with President Donald Trump at the “earliest possible date,” South Korea had said at the time.
However, earlier this month, North Korea threatened to possibly restart its nuclear weapons program if the United States doesn’t lift economic sanctions.
“If the U.S. keeps behaving arrogant without showing any change in its stand … the DPRK may add one thing to the state line for directing all efforts to the economic construction adopted in April and as a result, the word ‘pyongjin’ (simultaneously conducting economic construction and building up nuclear forces) may appear again and the change of the line could be seriously reconsidered,” according to a statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry.
Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been in the international spotlight throughout the year, and it was a major theme of the Trump-Kim summit this past June.
Trump said in September that sanctions will remain in effect against North Korea until denuclearization takes place.
“We have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace,” Trump told world leaders and their representatives at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
The two had “highly productive conversations and meetings,” and they had agreed it was in both parties’ best interests to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Trump said.
“We have since seen encouraging measures. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction,” he added, pointing out many positive steps taken since then: nuclear activity has stopped, some facilities have already begun being dismantled, American hostages have been released, and some remains of fallen U.S. troops have been repatriated.
And, the second U.S.-North Korea summit with Kim Jong Un is probably happening “quite soon,” Trump had told reporters that week.
The President had also pointed out how his relationship with Kim has improved since last year, when it felt like every other week there were reports of North Korea firing off nuclear missile tests.
“It was a different world. That was a dangerous time. This is one year later, a much different time,” he told reporters, the Associated Press reported.
He said Pompeo is working to make the second summit happen, and when asked if the meeting will happen, Trump said, “We will be doing that,” the AP reported.