USA abruptly postpones top-level N. Korea talks


Trump said the meeting, which had been due to take place on Thursday in NY, would be rescheduled, and that he still expected to hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un early next year.

The State Department said the top USA envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will join Pompeo and Kim to discuss efforts toward what it calls "achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea.

The meeting's delay until "a later date" - announced earlier Wednesday by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who also gave no reason - provoked concerns that nuclear talks between the USA and North Korea had again bogged down, as Kim's regime seeks sanctions relief before taking key disarmament steps. "Ongoing conversations continue to take place".

There was much talk of the possibility of success following a meeting in June between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but in the months since there has been little to quiet skeptics who believe the North will never give up weapons it has described as necessary to counter a hostile Washington.

Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol, a close aide to the North Korean leader, were expected to continue talks on dismantling the regime's nuclear weapons program and arranging a second summit between the leader and Trump.

On Sunday, Pompeo 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".

"Some time next year, I would say".

Meanwhile, a satellite imagery analysis published by the website 38 North suggested that North Korea is continuing uranium mining and milling operations at one of the country's largest declared uranium ore concentrate facilities. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that North Korea canceled the meeting while the State Department was preparing visas for the visiting delegation. "Sometime early next year", he said. South Korea's foreign ministry said it was not aware of Ri's visit.

The cancellation of the talks comes just a week after North Korea threatened to resume its nuclear weapons programme if the United States failed to lift sanctions against the country.

A senior South Korean foreign ministry official said that although the rescheduling was regrettable, there was no need to " overthink the postponement", according to Yonhap news agency on Wednesday.

The Democrats regained control of the US House of Representatives, where they will seek to keep Trump's agenda in check, while the Republicans maintained their majority in the Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections.

"If Democrats take issue with a range of issues, the Trump administration could be distracted and lose its energy and time to efficiently focus on dealing with the North Korea issue".