STATE DEPARTMENT - 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.
'We think it's going fine. 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.
Trump's remarks came hours after the State Department announced a postponement of Thursday's meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, a senior adviser to the North Korean leader. The statement did not give a reason why the meeting was called off.
FILE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official, arrive for a lunch at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 7, 2018.
The talks in New York were largely seen as paving the way for a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, who met in Singapore in June.
At a White House press conference, the president said Pompeo's meeting with Kim Yong Chol will be rescheduled.
'We are going to make it another day,' he said.
At the State Department on Wednesday, deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said the postponement 'is purely a scheduling issue.'
'We're in a pretty good place right now. We are confident going forward,' Palladino told reporters during a regular briefing. 'We're not going to be driven into artificial timelines.'
In announcing Pompeo's meeting with Kim Yong Chol earlier this week, the State Department said the two men would discuss 'making progress on all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization' of North Korea.
Kim and Trump signed an agreement at their landmark summit in June to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons, but the two sides have been at odds over the pace of Pyongyang's efforts to end its nuclear weapons program.
FILE - Journalists look around the third tunnel of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground before it is blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, May 24, 2018.
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. North Korea is also seeking a peace treaty with the United States and South Korea that will formally end the 1950-53 Korean War that split the communist North from the democratic South.
While both the U.S. and South Korea all want peace and stability in the Korea peninsula, there is a 'fear' that fast-developing inter-Korean relations may get out of step with Washington, according to former U.S. officials and experts.
'The fear from America's perspective would be that the South Koreans might go too fast and agree to things that would involve, for example, our troops, our economic postures that we wouldn't be prepared to give [at this stage], without perhaps getting significant concessions on reductions of weapons testing,' retired U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney said Wednesday.
'You could have a situation that South Korea and North Korea come to some kind of agreement and then suddenly there's an expectation that we would fall into line with that we would be willing to put scarce budget dollars into helping North Korea economically, you know, without having laid the groundwork or gotten enough concessions to make that possible,' Kenney said at an Asia Society event that discussed U.S. policy toward Asia after the midterm elections.
'Keeping these things in sync is always a challenge,' said former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel.
'It's a lot easier when the North Koreans are misbehaving, that tends to promote solidarity between Washington and Seoul,' Russel said. 'When the North Koreans are seemingly opening the door, then those differences in priorities and perspective can create tensions.'
'The immediate priorities of reconciliation, family visit, and potential for infrastructure and trade between North and South [Korea] look a lot different from Seoul and from Washington as does the global non-proliferation agenda,' he added.