Trump expects to meet Kim Jong Un next year
Postponed meeting between Pompeo and N. Korean official raises concern that talks could break down
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he expects to meet again with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un early next year.
He also said a meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials that was supposed to have taken place this week would be rescheduled.
Mr Pompeo had been due yesterday to hold talks in New York with a senior North Korean official, aimed at paving the way for a second summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim and at making progress on denuclearisation.
The State Department said early on Wednesday that the meeting had been postponed but gave no reason, raising concerns that talks could break down. The department said the talks would be rescheduled "when our respective schedules permit".
Mr Trump told a White House news conference that the change was "because of trips that are being made".
He added: "But we are very happy with how it is going with North Korea. We think it is going fine. We're in no rush."
Mr Trump said he still expects to hold a second summit with Mr Kim. He said: "Some time next year, I would say. Sometime early next year."
Mr Kim pledged to work towards denuclearisation at an unprecedented first meeting with Mr Trump in Singapore but negotiations have made little headway since, with North Korea falling short of US demands for irreversible moves to abandon a weapons programme that potentially threatens the US.
Pyongyang has complained that Washington has not made concessions in return for the moves it has taken. And last Friday, it warned it could resume development of its nuclear programme if the US did not drop its sanctions campaign.
The Trump administration has said that sanctions will not be lifted until North Korea gives up its weapons.
South Korea, which has worked to encourage US-North Korea dialogue, sought to play down the talks' delay.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said yesterday that the North had suggested a postponement.
"The North side said, 'Both of our schedules are busy, so let's postpone'," she said, according to what she was told by the US.
South Korea's presidential spokesman Kim Eui Kyeom said Seoul did not believe it would mean the second summit would not take place, and a senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official said there was no need to "overthink the postponement".
"We have to look at it as a part of the process of reaching complete denuclearisation and setting up a peace regime," the unnamed official told reporters. - REUTERS