Trump called off Pompeo's North Korea visit after belligerent letter

Two unnamed senior US administration officials said the letter Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) received last Friday came from Mr Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee.
Two unnamed senior US administration officials said the letter Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) received last Friday came from Mr Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump called off a visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the latter received a belligerent letter from a senior North Korean official just hours after the trip was announced last week, the Washington Post reported on Monday (Aug 27).

The Washington Post quoted two unnamed senior US administration officials as saying the letter came last Friday from Mr Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, who led previous rounds of talks with Mr Pompeo.

The newspaper said the exact contents of the message were unclear, but it was sufficiently belligerent that Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo decided to call off the journey.

The planned trip had been announced the previous day for this week and Mr Pompeo had intended to introduce a newly named special envoy, Mr Stephen Biegun, to his North Korean counterparts.

The White House referred queries on the Washington Post report to the State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In cancelling Mr Pompeo's trip, Mr Trump publicly acknowledged for the first time that his effort to get North Korea to denuclearise had stalled since his June 12 summit with its leader, Mr Kim Jong Un.

On Sunday, North Korea's state media accused the US of "double-dealing" and "hatching a criminal plot"against the country, but did not mention Mr Pompeo's cancelled visit.

 
 

US intelligence and defence officials have repeatedly expressed doubts about North Korea's willingness to give up its nuclear weapons and did not expect Mr Pompeo's trip to yield positive results.