US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Thursday meeting with a key aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been postponed, the State Department said, a potential setback in the seemingly stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
The meeting, scheduled for this week in NY, she said, "will reconvene when our respective schedules permit".
U.S. President Donald Trump says he expects to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un again sometime early next year and that his administration is "happy" with diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang.
The State Department previously announced that the meeting agenda would be focused on making progress on the four points of the Singapore summit agreement, including "achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea.
South Korea's state spy agency was quoted as telling lawmakers last week that North Korea appears to be preparing for a visit by the experts.
United States critics say that North Korea has yet to make any concrete concessions and it has rejected demands for what it described as its "unilateral disarmament". "We're in no rush whatsoever" to conclude a denuclearization pact with Pyongyang, Trump said Wednesday, adding he would "love to take the sanctions off", but North Korea has to be responsive. That effort has stalled, with North Korea refusing to declare the details of its nuclear capabilities or, so far, allow global inspectors into the country to verify claims that is has dismantled certain sites.
The State Department on Monday announced that Pompeo would travel to NY with Stephen Biegun, the USA special representative for North Korea, to meet Kim Yong-chol.
He said he would probably meet Kim for a second summit "sometime early next year".
A tougher USA stance on North Korea could complicate South Korea's efforts to improve relations with North Korea and expand cross-border exchanges in line with progress on the denuclearization of North Korea.
In July, Russia and China delayed a USA push for the Security Council's sanctions committee to order a halt to refined petroleum exports to North Korea, asking for more detail on a US accusation that Pyongyang had breached sanctions, diplomats said.
Some analysts suggest a domestically weakened Trump may impact his foreign policy, even test his North Korean diplomatic gambit.
This graphic image shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) meeting with Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, in NY in May 2018.
In December previous year, UN Security Council adopted a resolution that imposed tougher sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang's missile test.