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08 November 2018, 06:43 | Darnell Patrick
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A Thursday meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart in NY has been abruptly called off without explanation in another setback for the Trump administration's nuclear negotiations.
Trump said Wednesday that he would "love to take the sanctions off, but they have to be responsive, too".
The U.S. State Department earlier said the top U.S. envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, was to join Pompeo and Kim to discuss how to get to what it calls "achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea.
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In this photo provided by the North Korean government, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they pose for a photo in Pyongyang, North Korea, Oct. 7, 2018.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry also expressed hope that the USA and North Korea can quickly reschedule a high-level meeting. But we're not in any rush at all.
North Korea warned last week that it will consider reviving its nuclear weapons program if the United States fails to lift its crippling economic sanctions against the regime.
The statement did not threaten to end nuclear negotiations, however, and the North Koreans are said to still be pursuing a second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
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Tensions between the USA and North Korea that spiked last year when Trump and Kim were trading insults and dire threats have ebbed this year, but the North has not taken irreversible steps to give up the nukes it spent decades making and which it views as key to its security.
To that end, the US and South Korea announced last week the creation of a new working group to "strengthen our close coordination", including on "sanctions implementation and inter-Korean cooperation that comply with the United Nations sanctions", according to State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino.
Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said a high-level meeting between the US and North Korea immediately after the USA midterm elections was never realistic, especially when the North was in no mood to make any concrete concessions.
In contrast to Washington's approach, the South's dovish president Moon Jae-in, who brokered the Singapore summit, has dangled large investment and joint cross-border projects as incentives for steps towards denuclearization.
The latest NY meeting was set to come ahead of a busy season of diplomacy, with Pompeo meeting senior Chinese officials in Washington on Friday.
Trump told a White House news conference the change was "because of trips that are being made", but did not elaborate on these."We are going to make it ... another day", he said.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino emphasized that the postponement was "purely a matter of scheduling".
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