Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to leave Sunday for another trip to North Korea but that meeting was abruptly canceled Friday. President Trump and Pompeo met and during that meeting, as Trump was being updated about the latest developments with North Korea, he tweeted out that the trip would not be happening right now.
This was a surprise to the officials at the State Department. Just Thursday Pompeo announced a new member of the negotiating team, former Ford Motor Company executive Stephen Biegun. Though they were not scheduled to meet with Kim Jong-un, the possibility of directly meeting with him was left open. The main purpose of this trip was to introduce Mr. Biegun as the newest member of the negotiating team and the one to lead the ongoing efforts moving forward.
Mr. Pompeo on Thursday said Mr. Biegun, who served as the company’s vice president of international governmental affairs, would travel with him to North Korea next week. They will attempt to prod negotiations that have halted over disagreements about the pace of denuclearization, a declaration of peace, and what concessions the U.S. may be prepared to offer to show good faith.
“The issues are tough, and they will be tough to resolve,” Mr. Biegun said, standing beside Mr. Pompeo. “But the president has created an opening, and it’s one that we must take by seizing every possible opportunity to realize the vision for a peaceful future for the people of North Korea.”
Mr. Biegun served in a number of national-security and foreign-policy roles prior to joining Ford in 2004, including as an adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.).
You may remember that Mr. Biegun was considered when it was time to chose a replacement for Gen. McMaster as national security adviser.
Friday President Trump said, “I’m not satisfied with the progress,” he blames China for the lack of progress.
Mr. Trump appeared to blame China for the lack of progress on the negotiations, even though Beijing doesn’t have a direct role in the process. Officials say progress has stalled because the U.S. wants North Korea to take concrete steps before making any concessions, while Pyongyang wants Washington to reciprocate as it moves toward denuclearization.
Mr. Trump suggested in one tweet that China was no longer cooperating on denuclearization as a way to punish the U.S. over tariffs that have triggered a tit-for-tat trade dispute between the two countries. He said Mr. Pompeo would travel to North Korea after the trade dispute is resolved.
The U.S. has been calling on China to strictly enforce wide-ranging United Nations sanctions targeting North Korea’s economy. The sanctions were designed to exert painful economic pressure on Pyongyang and drive North Korea’s Mr. Kim to enter into talks over the country’s nuclear program.
Beijing initially appeared to work closely with the U.S. to enforce the U.N. sanctions, but in recent weeks U.S. officials have protested, citing a reported increase in trade between China and North Korea, and they warned that it could ease pressure on Pyongyang to negotiate.
Talks with China were left at a stand-off Thursday, with tariffs at the center of the latest disagreement. China continues to respond by leveling tariffs against America and continues to trade with North Korea. It’s almost like these countries can’t be trusted. (my sarcasm)
China’s foreign ministry issued a statement denying that China was not working with North Korea toward denuclearization as was promised to President Trump. China claims to be working on both denuclearization and regional stability.
“The U.S. statement is contrary to the basic facts and irresponsible. We are gravely concerned,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a Saturday statement. All relevant countries should “show more sincerity and flexibility, instead of acting capriciously and blaming others.”
Saturday during a phone call with Sec. Pompeo, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed regret that the trip had been canceled. South Korea, naturally, wants the momentum to continue as that nation also establishes a more open relationship with North Korea.
I applaud the efforts made by President Trump as he tries to stabilize the region and halt North Korea’s efforts to be a nuclear power. He’s well aware of past failures by previous administrations and I certainly don’t consider him to be naive about potential success with the crazy little North Korean dictator in power. He is an impatient man, though, from the world of business deals and not a politician accustomed to sitting around and jaw-boning everything to death, with little to show for it. He isn’t afraid of bold moves and that is what an effort on this scale takes. We should all wish his team well. Trust but verify.
— Dan Scavino Jr. Archived (@Scavino45) August 25, 2018