0731 GMT February 20, 2020
Last week the Kremlin said that Kim Jong-un would travel to Russia this month, announcing the first Russia-North Korea summit since Kim came to power in 2011, Reuters reported.
The announcement coincided with a moment of discord in efforts by US President Donald Trump's administration to reach a deal with Kim to end nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
In June, Trump and Kim opened up a face-to-face dialogue after months of trading military threats and pointed barbs. The two leaders signed a vaguely worded document on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but progress has since stalled because of the mismatched demands between Washington and Pyongyang over sanctions relief and disarmament.
North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea also said on Thursday it no longer wanted to deal with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and called for him to be replaced in talks by somebody more mature. That demand came hours after Pyongyang announced its first weapons test since the last summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February broke down with no agreement.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Kwon Jong-gun, in charge of US affairs at the Foreign Ministry, had warned that no one could predict what would happen if Washington did not abandon the “root cause” that compelled Pyongyang to develop nuclear weapons.
A day after the North Korean statement, Pompeo said the US diplomatic efforts will continue toward the goal of denuclearization of North Korea.
“Nothing has changed. We’ll continue to work to negotiate; still in charge of the team. President Trump’s obviously in charge of the overall effort, but it’ll be my team,” the US secretary of state told reporters in Washington on Friday.
Kim has recently warned that the summit breakdown risked reviving tensions and said he was only interested in meeting Trump again if Washington showed more flexibility. He gave a year-end deadline for a change in attitude.
Trump has said he is open to another summit with Kim, but his national security adviser, John Bolton, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday there first needed to be “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”