US ambassador says North Korea canceled Pompeo talks

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday that North Korea canceled this week's talks between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official, but a meeting between the two nations' leaders is still on for after Jan. 1.

"I don't think there was some major issue" for the postponement, she said. "I have talked with the administration and basically what we're looking at is they postponed it because they weren't ready."

Pompeo was supposed to meet with Kim Yong Chol in New York on Thursday to discuss the North's commitment to eliminating its nuclear weapons and arrangements for a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I do think the talks are going to be rescheduled," Haley said of the Pompeo-Kim Yong Chol meeting. "And it doesn't change the fact that that summit is still scheduled for the president and Kim to meet after the first of the year."

Haley spoke to reporters ahead of U.N. Security Council closed consultations called by Russia to discuss exemptions from U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

"We have given a lot of carrots up until now," she said, pointing to the Kim-Trump summit in Singapore and follow-up meetings as well as stopping military exercises.

While there haven't been any nuclear or ballistic missile tests by North Korea, Haley said its government hasn't allowed inspectors into its nuclear and missile facilities.

"We're not going to get rid of the stick because they haven't done anything to warrant getting rid of the sanctions yet," she said.

Haley accused Russia of trying to "earn brownie points with North Korea and I think they are also just trying to go ahead and talk about lifting sanctions because they're already cheating."

She accused Russia of bringing in North Korean laborers and providing Pyongyang with refined petroleum, in violation of U.N. sanctions. And she added: "We know they've been doing some things with the financial aspect of it."

As she left the closed council meeting, Haley said humanitarian exemptions were discussed.

She said earlier that the U.S. goal is to make sure aid goes to people in need, not the regime, so it is investigating technical aspects of a number of requests to make sure aid is not re-routed.

"So we're going to take our time to do that," she said.

But Haley said Russia's real aim came out at the end of the council consultations.

"What they're looking for is to lift banking restrictions, which are exactly some of the things we know they're not following through on appropriately," Haley said. "So now we know what their agenda is. We know exactly why they're trying to do it. We're not going to let it happen."