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North Korea asked the United States to delay planned high-level talks in New York this week, Seoul’s top diplomat said Thursday, a day after Washington abruptly announced the meeting’s postponement, reports BSS/AFP.
The US State Department said Wednesday that the encounter between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, initially scheduled for Thursday, had been shelved for “a later date”.
No further explanation was given, but Pyongyang is demanding sanctions imposed on it over its weapons programmes are eased, while Washington insists they should stay in place until it denuclearises.
South Korean foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said it was Pyongyang that had asked for a delay. “The US told us that it received a message from the North to postpone the meeting,” Kang told lawmakers, according to Yonhap news agency.
South Korean reports said that Kim — one of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s right-hand men — had been scheduled to catch a lunchtime flight from Beijing to New York on Wednesday. But his reservation was repeatedly cancelled and rebooked on Tuesday, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, until it was cancelled for good.
The sudden postponement came only two days after the US State Department announced Pompeo would meet the North Korean in New York to discuss progress towards denuclearisation and plans for a second summit between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un.