According to Reuters, President Trump canceled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to North Korea on Friday, citing insufficient progress towards denuclearization. The purpose of the scheduled trip in the first place was to continue denuclearization talks with North Korean leaders.
The President, however, insisted that the meeting, which was originally scheduled for next week, would have to be delayed until Trump found a solution to his escalating trade dispute with China.
Announcing the cancellation of the upcoming visit via Twitter Friday afternoon, President Trump tweeted, “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
This new statement takes on a drastically different tone for Trump, who claimed that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this past June. In addition, Pompeo had just announced his plan to visit North Korea only the day before, noting that he would be bringing U.S. special representative Stephen Biegun with him this time.
According to a senior White House official, the President only asked Pompeo to cancel his trip shortly before he tweeted about its cancellation.
“Because of our much tougher Trading stance with China,” Trump wrote, “I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place).”
“Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved,” the President continued. “In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!”
Of course, North Korea has failed to make any tangible steps toward denuclearization. Just this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency voice its “grave concern” over the continued development of North Korea’s nuclear program.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the State Department, Heather Nauert, claimed that Pompeo didn’t have any plans to meet with Kim Jong Un directly, noting that the trip was mainly about “regularizing these meetings.”
“I know you all want to speed up these things,” Nauert told reporters. “I know you want it to happen overnight. But this thing, this issue, is going to take some time, and we’ve been very clear about that.”