Administration

Trump calls off high-level North Korea visit by Pompeo

President Trump on Friday said he has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to put off his planned visit to North Korea and accused Pyongyang of slow-walking efforts to dismantle its nuclear program.

Trump wrote in a tweet that a high-level visit is not appropriate at "this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Pompeo was scheduled to make his fourth visit to North Korea next week to follow up on a framework agreement Trump reached with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The decision marks a rare admission from Trump that North Korea's denuclearization is not going as well as hoped.

Trump proclaimed after his meeting in Singapore with Kim in mid-June that North Korea is "no longer a nuclear threat."

Trump in the same series of tweets on Friday also accused China of not "helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were," pointing to "our much tougher Trading stance" with the nation as the cause of the rift.

The Treasury Department on Wednesday targeted a Chinese shipping firm and its Singapore-based affiliate for violating financial sanctions meant to cut off foreign aid to North Korea's economy.

The penalties are part of the Treasury Department's newest effort to punish North Korea's economic benefactors as the Trump administration looks to achieve a nuclear disarmament deal with Pyongyang.

"Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!" Trump wrote Friday.

The announcement came a day after Pompeo named a Stephen Biegun - a senior executive with the Ford Motor Company - to be the State Department's special representative for North Korea. Pompeo had said that Biegun was to travel with him to Pyongyang next week.

White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday had also praised Pompeo as having done "extraordinary follow-up diplomacy after the Singapore meeting," saying the administration expects "that's going to resume in the near future."

Pompeo has led negotiations with the isolated nation to attempt to push Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program.

The top diplomat traveled to North Korea in April to lay the groundwork for Trump and Kim's historic summit. Pompeo later accompanied Trump to the meeting and has since been back twice to North Korea.

At the summit, Trump and Kim signed a joint statement that committed Pyongyang "to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," though the document included no specifics on how that would be achieved.

That ambiguity has been reflected in North Korea's actions since the summit. Pyongyang has not conducted any missile or nuclear tests since the meeting, but U.S. officials have acknowledged that there have been no public signs of denuclearization.

Numerous media reports citing U.S. intelligence estimates say the nation continues work on ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development.

Bolton said earlier this month that North Korea "has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize."

The stalemate was reflected in Pompeo's most recent trip to the Korean peninsula last month, where he did not meet with Kim and was sent home with apparently little progress made for the Trump administration.

And when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioned Pompeo later in July, he admitted that North Korea is still producing the material necessary to make nuclear bombs.

Pompeo explained that the North Korea talks are a process of "patient diplomacy."

"We're engaged in patient diplomacy," he said. "But we will not let this drag out to no end. ... President Trump remains upbeat about the prospects for North Korean denuclearization. Progress is happening."

Updated: 3:10 p.m.

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