N. Korea, U.S. rescheduling high-level talks: Seoul’s top diplomat

November 9, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) — North Korea and the United States are trying to set a new date for a meeting between their top officials, Seoul’s foreign minister said Friday in response to skepticism about momentum in denuclearization talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to meet Kim Yong-chol, a senior aide to the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, in New York this week.

But it did not occur amid reports that Pyongyang demanded a delay in the talks.

“The U.S. has said conclusively that the talks have been postponed and will take place at a rescheduled time,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said at a National Assembly session.

The U.S. does not appear to be attaching great meaning to the delay in the meeting itself, she added.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks at a National Assembly session in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks at a National Assembly session in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

On Russia’s request for a closed-door U.N. Security Council session on North Korea, the minister said the issue of sanctions will likely be one of the main agenda items.

Russia and China have called for the easing of sanctions on the North, which has stayed away from provocative acts for months.

Kang said the government still plans to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the re-connection of inter-Korean railways and roads before the end of this year.

“(We) are in continued consultations with the U.S. (on the matter),” she said, adding there’s still a divergence of views to discuss between the allies.

Kang has not had phone talks with Pompeo since Wednesday’s announcement by the U.S. on putting off the New York meeting.

Meanwhile, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said that he believes it is possible for the North Korean leader to visit Seoul by the end of the year to reciprocate President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Pyongyang for a summit in September.

“Though the U.S. and North need to coordinate over their own meetings, we are holding consultations based on this thought: That to accelerate the enhancement of inter-Korean relations and for denuclearization, Chairman Kim’s visit to Seoul within this year is possible, and needed,” Cho said during a parliamentary session.

Seoul has been pushing for Kim’s unprecedented trip to the South amid speculation that such a push could be hampered by a lack of progress in the denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.