Domestic political pressure on Kim Jong-un to move slowly in denuclearization talks with the U.S. is so intense that North Korean state media is avoiding any mention of the high-level meeting the nation’s foreign minister had with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week in New York.
Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of Mr. Kim’s ruling Workers’ Party, ran a report Tuesday featuring a long list of meetings Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho had with others on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly — including with Chinese, Russian, Swiss, Kazakh, Venezuelan and other officials.
But, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the Rodong report neglected to point out Mr. Ri’s direct talks with Mr. Pompeo on Sept. 26, after which the secretary of state revealed that he had accepted an invitation to personally visit to Pyongyang in the weeks ahead to plan for a second summit between President Trump and Mr. Kim.
The North Korean state newspaper also avoided any mention of talks that Mr. Ri had in New York with Taro Kono, the foreign minister of Japan, a close ally in the Trump administration’s ongoing push to get the Kim regime to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Analysts say the denuclearization issue is sensitive for the regime because Mr. Kim’s father and grandfather spent decades staking their own legacies on developing the North Korean nuclear program.
That Mr. Kim might now destroy the program — even if he did so in exchange for sanctions relief — is apparently deemed so risky by the 35-year-old dictator’s advisers that they’re downplaying progress the ongoing denuclearization talks.
After stalling during the late summer, the talks have appeared to gain fresh momentum in recent weeks, following a three-day, mid-September summit in Pyongyang between Mr. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Mr. Pompeo wrote on Twitter last week that he’d had a “very positive” subsequent meeting with Mr. Ri in New York.