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High-level U.S.-N. Korea talks unlikely this month

Posted November. 26, 2018 07:32,   

Updated November. 26, 2018 07:32


A high-level meeting between the United States and North Korea, which was originally expected to be held around the last week of November, is likely to be postponed to next month.

As of Sunday, North Korea still did not provide a response to Washington’s proposal for another round of high-level talks, according to multiple sources. “To my knowledge, the North is not giving a response at all, rather than demanding something in return for the lifting of sanctions,” said a source. “The United States is expecting to receive a response from Pyongyang, as the regime earlier said that it called off a meeting purely because of schedule issues.”

Even if the North responds to Washington’s offer by the weekend (U.S. time), the schedule is too tight to hold talks sometime between Monday and Wednesday, and then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not be available for a meeting as he is scheduled to accompany President Donald Trump to his trip to Buenos Aires from Thursday to Saturday for the G20 Summit. This means that a U.S.-North Korea high-level meeting is likely to be delayed to early December, or even to mid- to late December.

As the high-level talks were primarily aimed at finalizing the location and schedule of a second Trump-Kim meeting, the postponement of the talks is likely to equally delay a U.S.-North Korea summit, which was initially expected to be held in early January. Particularly because working-level officials at the State Department including Pompeo are maintaining a firm stance that “they will not engage in a summit that produces no result,” some speculate that the North may be completely readjusting its strategy.

Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com