US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned meeting with his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-chol, which was due to take place in New York on Thursday, has been postponed, the State Department said Tuesday.
The top US diplomat’s meeting with Kim “will now take place at a later date” and they will reconvene when their “respective schedules permit,” according to a statement by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
“Ongoing conversations continue to take place,” it read.
Nauert did not offer an explanation as to why the talks were being postponed. It is also unclear which side asked for the postponement.
Pompeo and Kim were expected to discuss Pyongyang’s denuclearization steps and Washington’s corresponding measures to lay the groundwork for the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The high-level meeting was planned amid escalating tug of war between the US and North Korea over lifting of economic sanctions on the North, and a lack of visible progress on North Korea’s denuclearization since their leaders’ summit in June.
The South Korean government was notified of the postponement and looks forward to seeing the meeting take place in the near future, the Foreign Ministry said.
“It is rather the two sides will hold the meeting when their respective schedules permit,” a senior official from the ministry said on condition of anonymity, when asked whether the North Korean side was not ready for the meeting.
The official cautioned against reading too much into the postponement.
“(The delay of the meeting) should be seen as part of the process of achieving complete denuclearization and establishing a peace regime,” said the official. “We will continue to play our role to continue the momentum of dialogue.”
The official was also open to the possibility of a working-level meeting between Stephen Biegun, the US envoy for North Korea, and his North Korean counterpart Choi Son-hui.
The US offered to hold working-level talks to follow up on the commitment made by Trump and Kim, but North Korea has not responded to the call.