U.S. abruptly postpones talks with top North Korean official

South Korean Marine amphibious assault vehicles fire smoke shells during a landing operation in the southern city of Pohang

South Korean Marine amphibious assault vehicles fire smoke shells during a landing operation in the southern city of Pohang

"Pompeo's meeting with officials from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, scheduled for this week in NY, will now take place at a later date", Nauert said.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm U.S. congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. "We will reconvene when our respective schedules permit". But the Blue House would not reveal the reason for the postponement, referring questions to the State Department.

But North Korea has stepped up its demands for an easing of U.S. sanctions and the State Department, without offering a reason, said late Tuesday that Pompeo's meeting was off. North Korea's propaganda services have not mentioned the meeting.

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said a high-level meeting between the USA and North Korea immediately after the US midterm elections was never realistic, especially when the North was in no mood to make any concrete concessions.

The State Department had just one day earlier confirmed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would meet in NY 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 historic talks between Trump and Kim in June.

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".

The fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un assigned Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, to the talks rather than a diplomat could mean that North Korea only wanted to talk about plans for a North Korea-US summit, Woo noted. "We're in no rush".

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State-run media, in a statement last week, warned that North Korea was "seriously" considering a return to a guiding policy of building nuclear weapons and said that sanctions were "incompatible" with improving relations with Washington.

"Until now, the sequence progressed backwards from the end of the list, but I believe the first two issues will also be discussed in earnest during the high-level talks", Kim said.

But the growing divide between the USA and South Korea also has many concerned, as liberal President Moon Jae-in pushes for closer Korean ties including demilitarizing the border and increasing economic cooperation.

"There have been cases in the past when US-North Korea talks were delayed, so there is no need to shift between hope and fear", a senior ministry official told reporters. Instead of following through on that, in recent days North Korea has been criticizing the USA over its sanctions, threatening last Friday to bring back its "byongjin" policy - advancing its nuclear arsenal and economic development at the same time.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has abruptly shelved plans to meet a senior North Korean official in NY without explanation, the latest twist in diplomatic attempts to secure a potentially landmark peace deal.

Democrats have said they are determined to obtain more information about meetings between Trump and Pompeo and Kim, anxious that Trump is so eager to make a "great deal" that he will give Kim too much with little in return.

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