North Korea cancels high-level talks with US: Haley
North Korea has cancelled a scheduled meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials in New York, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says.
The talks were called off because Korean officials "weren't ready," Haley told reporters on the sidelines of a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on sanctions targeting Pyongyang on Thursday.
Russia has, meanwhile, called for a softening of UN sanctions, arguing that Pyongyang needs to be given positive signals after opening up on negotiations over its nuclear and ballistic program. Moscow says the bans have been causing “serious humanitarian problems” for the country's population.
“We consider such a situation to be absolutely unacceptable and actually violating the decisions of the council as they should not be directed against the population of the DPRK (North Korea) or the activity of humanitarian agencies,” said the Russian UN mission shortly after Thursday's Security Council meeting.
Several requests by humanitarian groups for approval to ship humanitarian aid to North Korea have been put on hold for months after the United States repeatedly asked for more time to consider them.
The UN Security Council has backed sanctions since 2006 to choke off funding for the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea stresses that denuclearization will have to be phased, with each stage coming in return for reciprocal steps by the US, potentially including the removal of US forces from the South Korea and lifting rounds of sanctions one by one.
Pyongyang has firmly defended its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.