WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday he has directed Secretary of state Mike Pompeo to postponement of a planned trip to North Korea, citing insufficient progress on denuclearisation.
Trump some of the blame on Beijing, saying that he does not believe that China helps “by our much more difficult Trading position.”
The surprise announcement appeared to mark a concession by the president to the domestic and international concern that his earlier claims of the world-the change of the progress on the peninsula was remarkably premature.
“I have asked Secretary of state Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel that we have not sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Trump tweeted on Friday, just two months after his June meeting with the North’s Kim Jong-Un in Singapore.
Trump’s reaction followed a report issued on Monday by the International atomic energy Agency in which “serious concerns” about the North’s nuclear program. It came a day after Pompeo appointed Stephen Biegun, a senior executive with the Ford Motor Co., to be his special envoy to North Korea, and said that he and Biegun on a visit next week.
The State Department never confirmed details of the trip, but the expectation was that Pompeo would be in Pyongyang at least a couple of hours Monday, according to several diplomatic sources familiar with the plans.
White House officials not immediately comment on what prompted Trump to make a call from Pompeo’s journey. The State Department had no immediate comment on the matter and referred questions to the White House.
Trump laid, unspecified debt to China, North Korea is one of the most important trade partner, which is widely believed to hold the largest sway over Kim’s government.
The US and China are embroiled in a trade dispute for months, with each side ratcheting up the rates on the imports of the other country, in what may be the opening salvos of a trade war.
Trump tweeted that “Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, probably after our trade relations with China is resolved.” He added: “In the meantime, I would like to my sincere regards and respect, President Kim. I look forward to see him!”
After a year of escalating tensions defined by nuclear and missile tests, new sanctions and “fire and fury” rhetoric, Trump made history meeting Kim earlier this year. In the run-up to the summit of the two countries have engaged in tough negotiations, with Trump publicly calling off the meeting, in an attempt to push Kim to agree to nuclear concessions. During the summit, the couple signed a vague joint declaration in which the North agreed to denuclearize, but that almost all of the details are not defined.
“There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Trump declared on Twitter after the meeting.
“Before you office people were under the assumption that we were planning to have a War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem,” he added. “Not more – sleep well tonight!”
Pompeo would be hard-pressed to return from Pyongyang with something that looks like the progress on the denuclearization front.
Although it is stopped, nuclear and missile testing and a number of non-related work — disassembly of the parts of a rocket engine facility to return, and the probable remains of American servicemen killed during the Korean War — its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile remain intact, according to the U. N.’s atomic watchdog and intelligence services.
In addition, recent statements from the North Korean officials have ruled all new concessions until there is a mutual gesture of the US outside of the suspension of the military exercises with South Korea. North Korea is demanding that the US ease or lift crippling sanctions — something Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have flatly ruled out until the its nuclear program is completely and verifiably dismantled.
Other than sanctions relief, the North, supported by South Korea, is seeking a declaration of the end of the Korean War. The conflict stopped with the signing of an armistice instead of a peace treaty, which means that the war is technically not over. The north and the South have vowed to the end of the open state of hostilities, and Seoul had hoped to convince of the benefits administration to sign off on a non-binding end-of-the-war-declaration as a gesture of good will that Kim Jong-Un domestic cover to proceed with denuclearization moves.
Pompeo and other officials have suggested a number of concessions to short easing or lifting of sanctions are possible for the verified denuclearization, but have refused to be specific about what they could be. And they are skeptical about an end-of-the-war-declaration in the absence of any progress on the nuclear issue.
At the same time, the legislators of both parties, including GOP hawks who generally support Trump, have expressed their concern about such a move, as it can be used by the North-to the question of the removal of AMERICAN troops from South Korea and possibly Japan without something in return.
Trump had kept up the positive tone-as recently as Tuesday at a campaign rally in West Virginia. There Trump maintained “we’re doing well with North Korea.”
“There is no missile launches. There is no rocket launches,” he added.
At the same rally, Trump seemed to take a different tone on China, saying he had failed to disclose, some criticism of China because “I wanted them to help us with North Korea and they have.”
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.