State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Tuesday that the United States and North Korea have made progress on the latter denuclearizing but added that the Trump administration thinks such efforts have not been sufficient.
At a State Department press briefing, a reporter asked Nauert about President Donald Trump's decision on Friday to direct Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel his planned trip to North Korea. Pompeo had been scheduled to go there this week until Trump nixed the visit, citing insufficient progress on getting the North Korean regime to get rid of its nuclear weapons.
"I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Trump tweeted on Friday.
I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2018
On Tuesday, Nauert did not rule out a future trip to North Korea if the North Koreans "stand ready" to talk.
Nauert then pushed back against a reporter who claimed that Trump had said no progress had been made on denuclearization.
"No, actually he said, ‘We feel that they are not making sufficient progress.' There's a big difference there," Nauert said. "We feel that they are not making sufficient progress. There is progress being made."
Nauert also emphasized the importance of the diplomatic talks that have already occurred between the United States and North Korea, including the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June. Amid ongoing dialogue between both countries, North Korea in recent months has returned the remains of U.S. servicemen killed during the Korean War from 1950-53 and released three Americans detained in North Korea.
Critics of Trump's North Korea policy have argued that the administration has not delivered on denuclearization; the administration has said that it would be a long road to denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.