Seoul: North Korea canceled meeting with Washington

The meeting would have set up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, above. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Seoul: North Korea canceled meeting with Washington

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea’s foreign minister quoted US officials as saying that it was North Korea that canceled a meeting this week between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official on nuclear issues.
North Korea sent a notification to Washington to call off the meeting aimed at discussing the North’s denuclearization and setting up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday.
Kang provided no reason on why North Korea canceled the meeting in New York. Kang told lawmakers she planned to discuss the matter with Pompeo over the phone. South Korea’s presidential office earlier said that the meeting’s postponement wouldn’t affect the momentum of talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
“We were notified by the United States that North Korea explained that (the meeting) should be postponed because both sides have busy schedules,” Kang said. “Secretary of State Pompeo has already said that the meeting will be rescheduled. I think it would be excessive to read too much into the postponement of the meeting.”
Trump told reporters at the White House that the United States is “in no rush” and that the meeting between Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Chol would be rescheduled.
US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said the postponement was “purely a scheduling issue” but refused to elaborate. He did not provide a straightforward answer when asked whether a discord over US-led sanctions against the North, which Pyongyang says must be removed before any progress in nuclear talks, has made it more difficult to set up meetings.
“Timing, timing,” Palladino said. “This has to do with timing as a matter — we’re talking about scheduling. And I’ll leave it at that.”
Seoul has worked hard to revive nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang, which removed war fears among South Koreans following a provocative run in North Korean weapons tests and Trump’s threats of military action last year.
Kim shifted to diplomacy in 2018, meeting Trump in June between three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. But the North has been playing hardball since the summits, fueling doubts about whether Kim would ever deal away a nuclear program he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry last week criticized the United States for its continued support of sanctions and hinted it may resume nuclear development if the measures aren’t lifted.
Trump has been showing signs of slowing the pace of his diplomacy with North Korea, seemingly pivoting closer to his party’s mainstream on North Korea issues. Trump recently said he won’t play a “time game” with the North over a denuclearization deal.


Pelosi scrapped Afghan trip after Trump ‘leaked’ details

Updated 45 min 35 sec ago
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Pelosi scrapped Afghan trip after Trump ‘leaked’ details

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday excoriated her political nemesis, President Donald Trump, for “outing” her commercial trip to Afghanistan after barring her from using a military aircraft, forcing her to scrap it entirely over security concerns.
The brawl between the no-nonsense Republican leader and the take-no-prisoners Democrat — who is now just two heartbeats away from the presidency — is the latest round in their shutdown showdown.
The federal government has been shuttered for four weeks over Trump’s insistence that a wider budget measure include billions of dollars for a wall on the border with Mexico — and Pelosi’s refusal to do so.
Their spat spilled into the diplomatic arena on Thursday when, after Pelosi suggested that Trump postpone his State of the Union address until the government reopens, the president grounded her military flight.
Pelosi accused Trump of being “very irresponsible” in breaching security protocol.
“We had a report from Afghanistan that the president outing our trip had made the scene on the ground much more dangerous because it’s just a signal to the bad actors that we’re coming,” she told reporters.
The administration strongly denies that it “leaked” any plans about the trip to a war zone.
“The idea we would leak anything that would put the safety and security of any American at risk is a flat-out lie,” a senior White House official said.
The US government shutdown, which has left about 800,000 federal workers without a paycheck, is now the longest in the country’s history — and there is no sign of a compromise.
The Office of Management and Budget reportedly issued a memorandum saying that “under no circumstance during a government shutdown” can a congressional delegation use government aircraft for travel.
However, Republican Representative Lee Zeldin led a delegation to Iraq and other countries since the shutdown began.
Pelosi’s office sounded off on the administration’s handling of her trip, which had not been announced for security reasons.
The State Department released an updated assessment stressing that Trump’s announcement of the Pelosi travel “had significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops,” her spokesman Drew Hammill said.
“This morning, we learned that the administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well.”
Democratic lawmakers have expressed outrage.
“As a former member of the Intelligence Committee who has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan, disclosing ANY Members’ travel into a war zone is disgraceful and dangerous,” tweeted House Democrat Jan Schakowsky.
“This is unprecedented.”
Trump lashed out at Pelosi once again on Twitter, asking why she and other Democrats would leave the country “on a seven day excursion when 800,000 great people are not getting paid.”
And then his re-election campaign team released a tongue-in-cheek shutdown-related campaign fundraising request.
For a contribution of $20.20, a reference to the next election year, the campaign told supporters it would send a fake red brick to Pelosi and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — to build a wall.