US State Dept. on Cancelled Trip to North Korea: ‘Not the Right Time to Travel’
CNN and the Washington Post are reporting that North Korea sent a letter to the United States last week warning that talks on denuclearization are ‘at stake and may fall apart.”
According to those reports, harsh rhetoric in the letter prompted President Donald Trump to abruptly cancel a planned trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, just hours before he was set to depart last Friday.
It was supposed to be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s fourth trip to North Korea. But President Donald Trump abruptly pulled the plug in a Tweet and accused China of not helping with the denuclearization talks.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert declined to confirm or deny the existence of a letter from North Korea, that reportedly warns Trump that talks were on the brink. Instead, she gave this reason for the sudden cancellation: “The entire national security team discussed this. In their judgment, they made the judgment that now is not the right time to travel. The president agreed with that and that is when the president made the decision to send out some tweets announcing that decision.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said it's possible that North Korea has changed its mind on denuclearization, but says the U.S. will not change its mind on sanctions. She said: “The positive is that we have sanctions that basically cut off 90% of their trade, 30% of their oil. We are holding tight on those sanctions so they still need financial relief and they are begging for it.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he is coordinating closely with Secretary Pompeo about resuming joint military exercises with South Korea. He said: “As you know, we took the step to suspend several of the largest exercises as a good faith measure coming out of the Singapore Summit. We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises.”
Senator Ben Cardin told VOA he supports Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un, but not ending the joint military exercises.He said: “Well, I thought it was a mistake to end the military exercises in the beginning, I did not support that. I did support the meeting - I think using diplomacy makes sense. But I don’t think there should be concessions made to North Korea unless we see tangible results.”
With talks apparently stalled, it is not clear when the world is likely to see the next images of another top-level meeting between the U.S. and North Korea.
US Economy Grows a Bit Faster Than First Thought
The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.2 percent annual rate in April, May, and June. The second-quarter growth figure is one-tenth of a percent higher than initial estimates.
"The economy is in good shape," according to PNC Bank Chief Economist Gus Faucher. He writes that this is the best "year-over-year increase in three years."
But Faucher also says growth above four percent is "unsustainable" and the economy is "set to slow somewhat in the second half of 2018," and hit 3.4 percent for the whole year. He predicts U.S. economic growth will slow further in 2019 and 2020 as the "stimulus from tax cuts and spending increases fades."
Wednesday's report from the Commerce Department is a routine revision made as more complete data becomes available.
Growth figures were boosted by a decline in imports, particularly petroleum, and by some temporary factors.
One of them is a surge in soybean exports, which were rushed at a faster-than-usual pace to beat tariffs imposed by China, in retaliation for new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese goods.
The new second quarter figures are nearly double the performance in January, February, and March.