The US State Department has reportedly denied visa to a senior North Korean diplomat, resulting in the cancellation of a planned informal talks between the two nations. It would have been the first contact between Pyongyang and the Trump administration.
Choe Son Hui, the director-general of the American affairs bureau in the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was to meet former US officials in New York in the first week of March, the Wall Street Journal cited people familiar with the subject as saying.
The talks were reportedly scheduled to take place near the UN headquarters in Manhattan, where Pyongyang has a permanent mission.
It is unclear why the envoy's visa was denied by the US, but North Korea's recent missile test on 12 February and the murder of its leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother in Malaysia might have played a role in her visa refusal, the report said on Saturday (25 February).
Both the US and South Korea believe, North Korea has a hand in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam on 13 February at Kuala Lumpur international airport.
A US State Department official denied the apparent talks that had been scheduled for 1-2 March, Reuters reported.
"The US government had no plans to engage in track 2 talks in New York," the official said, while reportedly denying commenting on individual visa cases.
The meeting in New York would have been the first time for a North Korean to visit New York in nearly six years. The last time talks took place in the US with North Korean representatives was in July 2011, before Kim took over the leadership from his father, Kim Jong il.
In recent years, representatives from both the sides have only met outside the US, in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Berlin and other locations. But Choe is thought to have a frequent interlocutor with the officials in Washington in the past, although she was not very active during the second term of Obama administration.
Trump on Thursday (23 February) described the North's ballistic missile tests as a "very dangerous situation". While he did not rule out meeting the leader of the recluse state at some point in the future, he said it was certainly too late to stop Kim's nuclear ambitions.