Prospects for new diplomacy as Pompeo heads to Pyongyang

US Secretary of State Pompeo to meet North Korea's Kim Jong-un

Reuters reported on Sunday that China had cancelled a security meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis planned for October.

The president's North Korea critics are right: Pyongyang has taken no steps to denuclearize in the last three months, and there's no reason to think that it will anytime soon.

The meeting between Pompeo and Kim may also chart a possible second meeting between the two leaders.

In a commentary on Tuesday, North Korea's official KCNA news agency said declaring the end of the 1950-53 Korean War could "never be a bargaining chip" for denuclearization and said experts calling for North Korea to declare details of its arms programs were "spouting. rubbish".

Ri Yong-ho, North Korea's foreign minister, said at the United Nations last week that "there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded an upbeat tone on Wednesday as he talked about his upcoming trip to North Korea and the progress he expected to make towards the denuclearisation of the country.

Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, said the comments "really puts a little bit of cold water" on the hope that North Korea might provide a list of its nuclear and missile sites in return for an end-of-war declaration.

Cho said North Korea may have accepted the USA proposal to shut down a nuclear weapons plant in addition to the Yongbyon complex that Kim promised to close during his third summit with Moon from September 18 to 20.

The United States argues the sanctions should remain in place until North Korea has fully and verifiably denuclearized.

Separately, South Korea is proposing that the United States hold off on a demand for an inventory of North Korea's nuclear weapons and accept the verified closure of a key North Korean nuclear facility as a next step in the negotiations, Seoul's top diplomat said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Nauert said the stops in Japan, South Korea and China were meant to brief counterparts on the Pyongyang talks.

Pompeo and Kim will also likely discuss a second summit between Kim and President Trump, which the White House said was in the works earlier last month.

At a campaign rally on Saturday, Trump said he and Kim "fell in love", adding "he wrote me attractive letters".

"We're not playing the time game", Trump told reporters September 26.

"I'm optimistic that we'll come away from that with better understandings, deeper progress and a plan forward, not only for the summit between the two leaders but for us to continue the efforts to build out a pathway for denuclearisation", he said.

Trump last week slapped $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and has accused Beijing of interfering in the upcoming United States election because of his hard line on trade.